The crossing point where”the West meets the East” is Greece, which is rich in traditions and reflects a diverse culture. Also, the ancient and multifaceted customs reflect the turbulent history of Greece. Thus, it would not be wrong to declare that Greek culture is filled with symbolic, pious and heart touching rituals and traditions.
It has been seen that the Greek festivities and traditions are not only celebrated in Greece; instead its rich culture and history connects Greek people around the globe. The blend of the West and the East has also been observed in Greek wedding ceremonies. Starting from engagement, to wedding ceremony to reception, a Greek marriage ceremony symbolizes beautiful and worthy rituals.
“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.” (Martin Luther, 1483-1546)
It is a worldwide fact that every little girl around the globe get matures with a delusion of having a fairytale wedding. This dream can come true! A Greek wedding ceremony could be as enchanting and delightful as a fairytale wedding. The reason could be the bright and beautiful nature and rich culture of Greece. Greek wedding rituals portray a pure and unique set of traditions that the bride and groom can relive throughout their lives. Although, Greek wedding traditions diversify and vary region to region, there are certain traditions which are commonly followed by the Greek people.
Read on this article to know about the fascinating and diversified marriage traditions of Greece.
Starting from the engagement ceremony, the couple exchanges the engagement rings in the presence of both the families. The families of bride and groom organize the wedding functions with mutual consent. Furthermore, on this occasion, the couple wears a simple gold band in their left hand to symbolize their engagement.
A profound diamond solitaire for the bride only is not a Greek tradition!
Setting the Date
While setting the dates for marriage ceremony, the families of bride and groom take special care of the holy days. According to Greek culture, some of the forbidden dates are as follows:
- Celebration of Virgin Mary- first two weeks of August
- The time period of forty days preceding to Christmas celebrations
- Another forty days preceding to Easter
- Exaltation of the Holy Cross celebrated on 14th September
- Beheading of Saint John-the Baptist celebrated on 29th of August
Preparation of Wedding Bed
Before the bride and groom enter into their marriage life, their friends, cousins, siblings and other attendants help prepare a new home. All single women gather to make up a wedding bed, while having groom’s official approval. The top of the bed is covered with rice and money which symbolize success, wealth and prosperity. Last of all, a baby is swayed across the marital bed to pledge fertility. Quite fascinating!
There is a famous superstition regarding this tradition. It says that whatever the sex of the rolling baby is, the couple’s first baby will be of the same sex. That means, if a baby boy is swayed over, then the couple will have a son. Undeniably, such superstitions make Greek traditions more enticing.
Grooming the Bride and Groom
On the day of wedding, the close friends of bride and groom gather to groom the couple. The groom’s best man, known as “ko-umbaro” shaves the groom and helps him get ready. On the other hand, bride’s maid of honor, known as “Ko-umbara” helps her to get dressed.
The most interesting tradition for bride’s friends is when names of all the unmarried friends are written on the bottom of the shoes. The names that are worn by the bride on the day of ceremony are the women who will get married soon! Isn’t it quite interesting?
On the day of ceremony, the Greek bride is expected to wear either a yellow or red dress. Greeks believe that the red and yellow color signifies fire and blaze that helps her protect against evil spirits. Over bride’s wedding veil is a stephane, which nowadays called as a bridal crown. In ancient times, no one could see the bride’s face before and after the wedding. With the passage of time, trends and traditions have been influenced by modern thoughts.
These days, brides usually prefer wearing white wedding gowns. In contrast to old tradition, they hold a bunch of red and yellow roses to ward off the evil. Even after all these years, today’s brides dreams to look like Greek Goddesses with a draping gown that hides body curves and adds greater volume, accenting around bride’s chest and a veil. Indeed, Greek culture portrays beauty and pureness!
Greek Wedding Ceremony
The Greek wedding ceremony is enormously filled with rich traditions and symbolic rituals. The most traditional ones include- the crowns, the candles and the common-cup.
The wedding ceremony starts when the bride walks down the aisle and handed to the groom. The wedding is followed by the crown ceremony. Two gold crowns are worn by the bride and the groom, which were assembled together by a ribbon. A strand of ribbon symbolizes unity and togetherness!
Marrying is easy; it’s the housework that’s hard!
Another exciting tradition is observed when the crowns are exchanged three times from side to side by groom’s best man. This tradition seems to symbolize religion and that the couple shall rule their conjugal life together.
“A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day.”
(Andre Maurois, 1885-1967)
The candles symbolize the light that Christ symbolizes!
Indeed, it is a heart touching ritual! The couple holds the candle during the entire marriage ceremony. According to Greek tradition, these candles should not be thrown in a trash; instead they should be burnt out completely. This proves that most of the Greek traditions are of religious nature.
The ‘common-cup’ is a single wine glass that priest fills with the wine. Then, each partner will ask taking three sips from the divine glass.
The common-cup tradition symbolizes sharing and love!
After accomplishing all the wedding traditions, the priest leads the couple to their first walk. The walk represents the commitment between husband and wife that shall prolong in the journey of life.
It is the time to celebrate the most momentous occasion!
In the history of Greek wedding traditions, there are lots of ways have been found to celebrate the pious occasion. For example, plates are smashed or broken by the attendants. Dancing is another crucial ceremonial element that adds infinite charm and enchantment to the ceremony. Starting from Tsamiko to Kalamatianos to ouzo-soaked Ziebekiko, there is a wide variety of traditional dance forms. The bride and groom perform at the end, which is the most awaited moment for all.
Lastly, the guests pin the cash to the clothes of bride and groom. Before leaving the place, the guests are bestowed with koufeta and almonds. The nuts are to be coated with sugar or honey to bless the couple with a sweet journey of life.
Another attention grabbing superstition is heard regarding this tradition. It says: An unmarried person can put these crunchy nuts under his or her pillow and get to see his or her life partner in the dream.
Marriage is all about sharing, care, commitment, endurance and love. Certainly, Greek wedding traditions symbolize these elements well. Their culture and traditions are still being admired by modern times and will continue to shine in the upcoming eras as well.
“If there is such a thing as a good marriage, it is because it resembles friendship rather than love.”