7 quirky traditions to expect at a Ukrainian wedding

Traditional Ukrainian Weddings are ripe in symbolism and steeped in century-old traditions. Just in case you should ever find yourself at a Ukrainian Wedding here is a handy guide on what to expect.

1. A conciliatory pumpkin

The Ukrainian Wedding process officially commences with the formal engagement. The prospective Groom, together with two older men (‘starosty’) visit the Bride’s parents house to request permission for their daughters hand. Tradition dictates that if the parents do not approve of the match they will send the young man home with a pumpkin so that he does not leave completely empty-handed.

2. Buying the Bride

The morning of the Wedding, the Groom, equipped with money and gifts and with his possie in tow, will make his way to the Brides house. There they will be greeted by members of the Brides family who’s job it is to protect the Bride from being ‘stolen’ without adequate ransom. The two families will engage in a comical bartering match often with the Groom expected to answer questions about the Bride and shower her with praise.

In some cases if the Brides family is feeling especially theatrical they may even bring out another man or women dressed as the Bride covered with a veil so the Groom can’t see her face. Once the Groom realises his Bride is in fact a decoy he is forced to pay more once again.

Ukranian Wedding ransoming the bride

Image via: buzz feed.com

3. Blessing (Blahoslovennya)

Shortly before the ceremony the parents and godparents give their blessing to the couple. The young couple kneel on an embroidered ritual cloth (rushnyk) before their parents. The parents bless the children wishing them a prosperous and healthy life together. It is here that the two families officially become one.

Ukranian wedding blessing

Image via: drinkteatravel.com

4. Ceremony

Unlike most western marriage ceremonies the father of the Bride does not walk the Bride down the aisle. Instead the Bride and Groom enter together as willing equal partners.

orthodox ukranian wedding ceremony

Image via: lizlui.com

5. Stepping on the Rushnyk

During the ceremony the couple step on a traditional embroidered cloth referred to as ‘Rushnyk’. Custom dictates that the first person to step on the cloth will wear the pants in the relationship!

ukranian wedding ceremony

Image via: drinkteatravel.com

6. Korovai Wedding Cake

Korovai is intricately woven bread decorated with various symbols and figurines and traditionally served at Ukrainian Weddings. Historically it took the place of the Wedding cake but modern Brides often choose to have both.

korovai ukranian wedding

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7. Bottoms up!

Ukrainian Weddings are reportedly renowned for toasts, with every sibling, great aunt and second cousin twice removed wanting to offer their heartfelt congratulation to the newlywed couple. At the end of the toast the Ukrainian phrase “Hirko”, meaning bitter, is uttered. This is designed as an invitation for the Bride and Groom to kiss. As tradition goes, if something is “bitter,” kissing will sweeten it.

ukranian wedding toast

Image via: insideweddings.com

Posted in Culture by wedded wonderland

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