Busted Halo

In Virtue/Vice, Dr. Christine B. Whelan blogs about news, books, scientific and psychological research and her general musings about virtue and vice in our everyday lives.


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March 9th, 2011

Divorce Ceremonies


divorceceremonies-flashWhen you plan a wedding, you might select the specific readings or poems to commemorate your love at the ceremony. You’ll invite friends and family to witness the event, sanctify the union and celebrate your commitment. There might even be a wedding planner to get all the details in place.

In Japan, that’s one of two possible ceremonies a couple can now have: First you get married in a symbolic ceremony.  And then you can end your marriage with a similarly elaborate event — divorce ceremony planner and all.

According to Reuters, businessman Hiroki Terai came up with the idea “to help couples celebrate their decision to separate after one of his friends was going through a bitter divorce.” He said 

“I started this ceremony in April last year thinking that there should be a positive way to end a marriage and move on by making a vow to restart their lives in front of loved ones,” Terai said.

Jezebel had more details:

Divorce ceremonies typically begin with friends and family traveling together in a procession to the mansion. Though some choose to dress up (one woman even wore her wedding gown), most divorce ceremonies are somewhat less formal. The unhappy couple marks the end of their marriage by bringing a frog’s head gavel down on their rings. After they’ve banged the circlets, most parties head to a local restaurant, where the former bride and groom sit at separate tables and entertain their guests.

As Rebecca Mead so eloquently wrote in her 2007 book, One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, the desire for a big party seems to have eclipsed the significance and sacrament of marriage. (The idea that a wedding is a day, but marriage is for a lifetime is probably not one of the aphorisms mentioned at divorce ceremonies.) Does the anticipation of a big party make people feel better about-or even encourage them to-divorce?

But I just have one question: Are the guests who come to divorce ceremonies expected to bring gifts-or do they get their money back from the wedding gifts that they gave the couple a few years earlier?

The Author : Christine B. Whelan
Dr. Christine B. Whelan is an author, professor and speaker. She and her husband, Peter, and their dictator cats, Chairman Meow and Evita Purron, live in Pittsburgh. Her book "Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women" is available in stores or at the Halo Store.
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  • Matt

    Somehow, I don’t think a “divorce party” meme is going to encourage people to get divorced, any more than the prospect of a really kick-ass wake (if you think I’m kidding, ask anyone from a big Irish-American family — or any cop, for that matter) encourages people to die.

    I’m also a bit suspicious about the actual prevalence of new “trends” that seem tailor-made to suit the needs of a “lifestyles” writer on a wire-service deadline.

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