What is the Ukrainian wedding tradition?

Many modern wedding traditions have very old (and sometimes strange) roots. And, of course, it is good not to just blindly follow traditional rites and customs, but to understand and realize the meaning and acceptability for oneself of this or that tradition.

According to the staff of the registry office, summer is the busiest wedding season. In fact, before the summer, no one got married: there was no time to celebrate, because there was a lot of work in the fields and in the garden. The wedding season began in the fall, when the work in the field was finished.

In the pre-Christian period, people got married in the early spring, when everything that was alive awoke from its winter sleep and longed for conception. Therefore, this time of year was considered the most auspicious for the formation of a new family. With the arrival of Christianity, this tradition changed, as the fasting period of the time prohibited any kind of festivities.

For a long time, folk traditions dominated Ukrainian wedding ceremonies. Some of them are so old that it is not easy, even today, to find an explanation. For example, the tradition of pouring wine and breaking the glass "for good luck" dates back to the belief in the sun god, i.e. to pagan times. By pouring the drink, we unconsciously offer a sacrifice to the Sun, and the glass is broken, because no mortal dares to use the cup, from which the pilot of the Sun comes out.

The wedding ceremony began with a meeting. The bride and groom chose respected elderly people with a "sharp" tongue, because it often depended on their eloquence that the groom left with a "garbuz" or towels. As a rule, the bride and groom went to the homes of their fellow citizens. When the groom was rejected by all the girls in the village (it happened!), the village chiefs went on a "hunt" in the neighboring villages. This is why the huts, where the girls live, were painted in bright colors for the visiting village chiefs. The girls could also propose to a boy. This happened when a boy lied to her. This tradition was a salvation for the girl, because it was considered inadmissible to "give the garbuz of a girl". According to popular tradition, marriage could also save the condemned to death.

There was also a custom of stealing brides: in this way, you could get a girl rich enough. The main thing for a villain was to hide his prey for at least one day. Then he was simply obliged to marry the girl (of course, if she wanted). Otherwise, his head was lost!

The young couple quickly became engaged: the rings were exchanged. From that moment on, the young man could spend the night at the bride's house. It is suggested that the so-called civil marriage once existed in Ukraine, and was called a trial. In veshnitsa, girls slept with boys. The Church was terribly opposed to such promiscuity. In fact, on the main territory of Ukraine, the virginity of a girl was necessary for the subsequent marriage ceremony.

The wedding began in the hut of each of the young people. When the young man went to pick up the girl, he could be stopped on the way (and more than once!) to ask for a ransom for the bride: it was necessary to pay a symbolic sum or a treat. The haggling continued in the bride's yard - the bride's family also demanded a ransom. After that, they went to celebrate in the house of the groom. To be rich, the young couple was sprinkled with cereal (nowadays, they also add candy - to make life sweet, and small coins) before departure.

Everything flows, everything changes... Different times, different traditions. But, strangely enough, wedding traditions hardly change. Only some newlyweds prefer to introduce some innovations, and sometimes even depart from the accepted canons. However, it is not in vain that for centuries newlyweds are blessed with bread and salt or, say, sprinkled with candy and money. Each of these rituals has a mysterious meaning, whose secrets we will try to reveal. 

The embroidered towel is an essential attribute of all folk festivals and rites; it literally accompanies a person from the cradle to the grave. Christmas, Shrovetide, Trinity - all these festivals were sewn and embroidered towels. Many of them were made for weddings, because according to the old folk custom, the bride had to give each guest a hand-embroidered towel. In addition, there is a beautiful custom in which parents welcome their newlyweds with a "spring bread" by presenting them with a towel. This ritual has its roots in the ancient civilization of Egypt. The ancient Egyptians revered bread so much that they marked it in the letter with the same hieroglyph as gold. And this is not a coincidence. Indeed, bread is a symbol of abundance and material well-being. The fragrant bread on the table signified the constant readiness to receive guests. It was a sign of divine patronage and protection against hostile forces. The piece of bread was placed in a cradle for the protection of a baby, carried with it on the road for protection. A loaf of bread, each slice and even each crumb embodied the destiny of a man. It was believed that strength, health and luck depended on handling. Bread was always treated with reverence and respect. It was put in the oven in silence. While it was in there, they didn't talk loudly, didn't scratch the floor. Otherwise, he would be "scared", start to be "fussy" and not succeed. That's why it's no coincidence that the newlyweds are greeted with bread and salt. But in this case, the special bread - KARAVAY! The bride and groom must take a bite of the bread, without touching it with their hands. It is believed that the one who takes the biggest bite will be the head of the family. The bread is necessarily decorated with ears of wheat, representing the well-being and prosperity of the family. The bread is always decorated with cranberry leaves, which are a symbol of the family's fertility. And it is not by chance that the bread is decorated with two intertwined rings, symbolizing the loyalty of one to the other. The ring has no beginning and no end. It is a symbol of eternity, of eternal love. When the young couple swears fidelity to each other, they exchange the rings.

Shishki" are buns that are distributed to the guests. This tradition comes from Western Ukraine. On the gate of the house where the wedding took place, a pine cone (a branch of spruce) was hung, and the guests had to decorate it with something: tie a ribbon, hang a pine cone, a toy. When all the guests were gathered, the branch was removed and the villagers paraded around the village with it. The more richly adorned the guilt, the more satisfied the groom's parents and the more envious the neighbors. When the guests parted, each had to take one of the "cones" with them. The fewer cones left on the tree, the longer the newlyweds had to live together. Over time, the ritual evolved into handing out baked cones to guests as they left the party and everyone had to take home and not leave the newlywed couple with a cone.

The custom of kidnapping the bride existed among the Russian Slavs. For example, in Vyatichi and Northerners, during the games, songs and dances, the men chose their brides and took them home. The very expression PLAY THE MARRIAGE reminds of the ancient games, which were the origin of the acquisition of brides. This rite was not forgotten thanks to serfdom, which was established in Russia. As in Scotland, where the right of the first wedding night belonged to the English ruler, here the right of the first wedding night belonged to the lord (noble, pan), sometimes (quite often) the bride and groom objected to this custom, and the lord's serfs simply stole a bride in the middle of the feast. If the groom was rich enough, the lord could offer a dowry. With the abolition of serfdom, this became a happy tradition. 

Stealing the slipper. In the past, the slipper was not stolen. The bride was invited to try on the slipper by her unmarried friends. At the end of the fitting, the girl who had the shoe fitted asked the groom to buy the shoe back from his wife for a fee. Thus, it was tested how successful and rich the groom was. The bridesmaids either handed out candy, offered gifts, or tearfully asked to return the slipper "for nothing." The slipper was necessarily returned to the bride, but this moment was very important to the groom. For a long time after the wedding, people talked about the groom: whether he was rich or poor, kind or cruel, generous or stingy. The ransom for the slipper was traditionally considered candy, gingerbread and ribbons. In Ukraine, ribbons in braids were worn only by unmarried girls.

It is believed that the throwing of the wedding bouquet is a purely American custom, although some experts suggest that Americans adopted this ritual at Jewish weddings. But a similar tradition also existed in Ukraine. A bride would pass her festive wreath of flowers (which in the future would turn into a veil) to her friend, who, in theory, was to be married next; later, the custom was to throw the wreath into a crowd of young girls. The girl who caught the crown was considered the next bride. A year later, the next wedding was to take place. If a girl didn't want to get married, she didn't join the line of loaners.

Just as the bride throws her bouquet to her unmarried friends, the groom throws the garter removed from the bride's leg to his unmarried friends. Also, according to the omen, the one who catches it gets married first. The garter can be removed in different ways - discreetly under the table or in full view of the guests with hands or teeth. If this ritual is too revealing for you, you can also remove the garter privately on the first wedding night in an intimate setting.

There is an old English saying that the wedding party should have "something old and something new, something borrowed and something blue". This omen originated in the Victorian era and many brides have been trying to dress according to tradition ever since. Something old symbolizes a connection to the bride's family and her past. Many brides wear old family jewelry or their mother or grandmother's wedding dress. Something new symbolizes luck and success in the bride's new life. A wedding dress is usually something new. A borrowed item reminds the bride that her friends and family members will always be there if their help is needed. A lace handkerchief can be used here. Something blue or bluish is a symbol of loyalty and faithfulness. This is usually a garter. A silver coin is placed in the bride's shoe to wish her wealth.

This is one of the oldest and most beautiful Ukrainian wedding ceremonies. Only before the wedding guests do not remove the veil, but the wedding crown with ribbons and braids of girls (hence the name of the rite - "de-braiding of the bride"). In most of Ukraine, the veil is removed from the bride by her mother-in-law, but in some regions it can also be removed by the groom. After the veil is removed, the bride's head is tied in a "khustkoyu" (scarf) and the bride bids farewell to her unmarried bridesmaids in a ritual dance, covering her bridesmaids' heads with the wedding veil. This ritual symbolizes the passage from girlhood to adulthood and its significance lies in the fact that the groom's mother recognizes her as a full-fledged mistress in the bride's house.

This is not a complete list of all the existing traditions in Ukraine. In each region there is something different. Something that adds a certain flavor and mystery to the wedding ceremony. Without all these rituals, life would be boring, and the party itself is not pleasant. However, the most important thing to remember in all the wedding fuss is the main thing: everyone's feelings.