Stunning Weddings in Ukraine Bring Blessings to the New Bride
A wedding is an amazing event, signaling a transition regarding your place in the community. For many countries and cultures, a wedding symbolizes the couple coming together, but also another coming of age for the bride and groom. Still, there are also plenty of traditions meant to pay homage to a time when brides were bought through the exchange of goods and money.
One Ukraine tradition involves the groom paying a ransom for his bride. On the morning of his wedding, the groom goes to the home of his in-laws and offers a gift to the family, which starts as two loafs of bread, in exchange for his bride. His family comes along for moral support, even as her bridesmaids do whatever is possible to make his ransom grow. This process can include asking questions about the bride, and wrong answers cost him. After showering compliments on his bride and plenty of cash, he is allowed into the house to collect his bride.
For those who attend, it is a time of laughter and entertainment, which is a great way to start the day. In older iterations of this tradition, the bride and her family could reject the groom and send him off with just a pumpkin, so he does not leave empty-handed. The bride’s family might also try to trick him with a fake bride, then up the price for the more valuable bride.
Once the couple is together, a blahoslovenja or blessings are offered over the couple by their grandparents and parents. It may even take place right in the bride’s family home after the ransom has been paid.
Another tradition is stepping over the rushnyk, which is an embroidered cloth. The couple will step over this cloth before taking their vows. It is said that the person who steps on the cloth first will wear the pants in the family, thus having the final say throughout the marriage. The groom almost always gives that honor of stepping on the cloth to his bride, which is seen as a sign of respect to her.
While the couple does exchange wedding rings, these are traditionally worn on the right hand instead of the left. Rings can also be bought by the couple together, although there is no hard or fast rule regarding this practice.
The kidnapping of the bride throughout the reception is also a chance for men to do various dares, which can involve things that the groom fears or is reluctant to do, or even alcohol, such as vodka. Each of these dares allows him to reclaim his bride, before her bridesmaids kidnap her again. In addition, there is always room for toasts at a Ukrainian wedding. Every toast ends with the word Hirko, which means bitter. That was a signal for the bride and groom to kiss.
Another fun tradition is the entertainment, which extends beyond dancing to include games and other activities. The couple and their MC or tomoda have to keep everyone’s spirits high throughout the evening. Games can even include guessing the gender of the couple’s first baby.
The single ladies also get to dance with the bride, before being sat down in a chair. The idea is to hop up quickly to avoid sitting alone for the rest of your life. Once you jump up, you grab a piece of paper out of a hat for your love life prophecy. While it is not always accurate, it can still be a fun part of the evening.
Clearly, with a variety of games and events, the wedding is meant to be a night of laughter and celebration as the couple joins together.
No wedding is complete without a traditional food, and in the Ukraine, that is the Korovai. This cake is an alternative to a traditional wedding cake. It is made with wheat flour and decorated with various symbols and figurines. They can be a gift to the couple, so it is not uncommon for these cakes to be consumed in the days after the wedding.
Resources and References