Information Portal about Ukraine and Ukrainian women.

Ukraine Wedding Traditions.

We never say about Ukraine wedding "to celebrate", but always "to play wedding". It comes from the old Ukrainian wedding traditions, when wedding was not just a party but a whole set of special rituals which symbolized creation of a strong life foundation of a new family and its future well-being. It was more a theater play than a party where the solemnity and merry-making played together.

If you are lucky, you still can watch this kind of mysterious play and become a part of it somewhere in Ukrainian villages. The traditional Ukrainian weddings differ from village to village in details, but all of them follow the same pattern in the order of wedding actions.

The very first action of the Ukraine wedding is a formal engagement. The groom invites two married men (they call them starosty) to visit the home of the bride and to request her parents for her hand in marriage. If the bride agrees, she will drape the starosty with traditional rushnyky (towels), both parties exchange the gifts and loaves of bread. Sometimes, when she doesn't want to merry a guy, visitors can get a pumpkin (garbuz) instead of a loaf of bread.

The wedding ceremony starts at least one week after engagement. Usually on Thursday or Friday they bake special wedding ritual bread - korovai and shiskas. The groom and bride walke the village and give shishkas to their wedding guests as an invitation.

Before the wedding both groom and bride have separate parties with their close friends. At the girl party (devich vecher) they make a ritual tree (giltse). Together with korovai it stays on the wedding table as a symbol of youth and beauty of the ukrainian bride and groom.

Saturday and Sunday are the days of the main civil marriage ceremony or the church service. After the ceremony the groom takes the bride to her parents home and returns to his own home. Both families have meal with their friends and relatives. After meal it is time for the groom to take a wedding train (poizd) and bring his bride to his home.

At the bride's house groom has to pay a ransom to be admitted in the house to join the bride's family at the table. At the end of the day the bride and groom travel to his home where they will live after wedding.

Next day is a day of merry-making, frivolity, and pranks. The wedding quests, who are dressed like gypsies, visit houses, take gates off of hinges, steal chickens, hide equipment, and commit other silly things. They seat the parents of the groom or bride in the decorated cart and pull them to the water. There they overturn the cart and dump the parents into the water make them completely wet.

All this actions may seam silly and irrational, but they absorbed the wisdom of the ancient Ukraine traditions preserved during hundreds of years and are full of deep meaning.

What about new Ukraine wedding traditions? Time changes, so do traditions. It is not easy to find that almost theatrical wedding action which took place one-two hundreds years ago in Ukraine. But even today every wedding in Ukraine has the elements of the ancient rituals preserved by people memory.

There is some thing which has not been changed during the centuries: the life is continuing here on the Earth. And every year we will meet happy newlyweds like this young couple and watch their weddings - two days of their life which can never be forgotten.


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