The Greek Wedding Traditions And Customs
A Greek wedding is traditionally unique and big, full of joy, and as lively as it can be. This article gives you more information on some popular Greek wedding traditions and customs.
Greek culture is multi-faceted and many-layered and goes back many centuries to the classical times. Hence Greek weddings incorporate a wide variety of influences ranging from remnants of pagan practices to Christian elements and more recently westernized trends.
The Greek Wedding Ceremony
The majority of contemporary Greek weddings follow the Greek Orthodox wedding service which begins with the betrothal ceremony. In this the best man or the koumbaros, holds the wedding rings over the heads of the bride and groom and blesses them three times for the Holy Trinity. Rings are exchanged, again three times, to conclude this betrothal of the bride and groom. After the wedding the bride and groom now wear the rings on the right hand. Yet another important part of the Greek wedding ceremony is the Stephana. Special marital crowns or wreaths made of orange blossoms and linked by a white ribbon are placed upon the heads of bride and groom which are then switched back and forth three times. Then the bride and groom walk around the altar three times as prayers are repeated to seal their union. As they circle the altar, guests shower them with rice or sugared almonds which are symbols of prosperity and good fortune. This is also part of the Isaiah dance which follows after the priest has declared the couple man and wife.
During the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom are adorned with crowns. While doing so, the crowns are exchanged three times as a part of the Greek tradition. The wedding crowns represent glory and honour. These crowns are joined with a silver ribbon that symbolizes the union of the couple. The couple wear these crowns till the end of the marriage ceremony.
Before the wedding, the bride and groom invite their friends to their new house. It is a common tradition that the bride’s single friends decorate the couples bed with candied almonds spread on it. Then, the relatives and guests present money and wedding gifts to the bride and groom, which is believed to bring them luck and fortune.
It is custom for the couple to use the same ring for both the engagement and the wedding. When the engagement takes place the priest blesses each ring and the couple wear them on the left hand until the wedding, where they are blessed again and switched to the couple’s right hands.
There are two types of traditional Greek wedding dance viz. the Isaiah and the Kalamatiano. The former dance is performed only by the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony, and the Kalamatiano, on the other hand, is performed at the reception. In this, the bride and groom along with the guests participate and dance by forming a circle.
There are two significant dances associated with a Greek wedding. The first, the Isaiah dance, is performed by the bride and groom during the ceremony. Afterwards the couple is part of another dance. This one, called the Kaslamantiano, is performed in a circle during the reception.
The traditional Greek wedding reception is usually a huge party and can last through the night. There is a lot of feasting, drinking and dancing, which usually starts with the money dance. During this, guests traditionally pin or tape money to the clothing of both the bride and the groom and the money collected from the dances eventually go to pay for the honeymoon. The famous Greek circle dance is yet another way to celebrate the wedding. Later on dishes are smashed on the floor for good luck and money is thrown at the musicians. At the end, candy coated almonds, called koufeta are served to the guests as reception party favors.