The Henna Night
The henna night was a night used to prepare all the necessary wedding decorations and last minute arrangements. It was also a chance for the families to celebrate together before the wedding.
The groom's family would dance through the streets of the village until reaching the house of the bride. Once there, the family would mix henna together, which would then be used to decorate the bride and grooms hands (with the groom's being merely the initials of his bride and himself), and then offer the bride her mahr (usually gold as it does not decline in value like other wealth). The families would then dance and sing traditional music.
In modern times, particularly those not living in Palestine, the henna night remains traditional in customs, but is very similar to a bachelorette party; the bride's female friends and relatives join her in celebrating, which includes food, drinks, and a lot of dancing. A women's group plays Arabic music, sometimes Islamic music, while everyone dances. A woman draws henna or mehendi, a temporary form of skin decoration using henna, on the bride and guests' skin —usually the palms and feet, where the henna color will be darkest because the skin contains higher levels of keratin there, which binds temporarily to lawsone, the colorant of henna. The men will also have a party, in which the groom's family and friends will dance to traditional Palestinian music. In some village customs, the groom's face is shaven by a close family member or friend in preparation for his wedding. The tradition of giving the bride her gold is also still used. The groom will enter where the bride is, they well both get their henna done, and the groom will then offer the bride her mahr. Thus, the wedding being merely dancing and celebration.
An important element of the henna night in both traditional and non-traditional henna parties, is the dress adorned by the Palestinian women and the groom. The women dress in traditional (usually hand embroidered) gowns, known as Palestinian ithyab. The brides thobe would be extravagant and exquistely embroidered. The groom will wear the usual traditional Arab men's thobe and hata (head covering).
Sahra In some areas also the male friends and relatives celebrate an evening party (sahra in Arabic ) in the garden or on the street in front of the groom's house. Music and dance groups perform and the men dance with the groom. Women are not allowed and may view the program via video projection inside the house or the closed off garden. In strict Islamic families this is the only way to allow males from outside the family to attend the wedding.