Wedding, Greek Macedonia, ca.1980

WEDDING, Greek Macedonia, ca.1980

GREATLY CONDENSED from: Dance and the Body Politic in Northern Greece by Jane K. Cowan, 1990

MONDAY: Bride’s trousseau hung for display in bride’s home. Bride not to leave the house until the wedding.

THURSDAY: Wedding invitations handed out, people arrive at bride’s house with gifts.

FRIDAY Evening: Groom’s female kin visit bride’s home to view display of wedding gifts and trousseau.

SATURDAY Morning: Groom’s kin and neighbours prepare food for groom’s celebration Saturday night.

SATURDAY Afternoon: Daulia (‘band’ [usually Roma] of drum & 2 zurnas invited by groom’s kin) arrive at the groom’s house, groom’s party begin dancing kalamatianos, syrtos, & siganos. Then the patinadha [a procession consisting of the daulia, groom’s party (minus groom, his father, and married women) & bridal gown] parade noisily (& drunkenly) through the center of town to the bride’s home, freely dispensing ouzo along the way. The daulia plays music in a quick 9/8 tempo.

SATURDAY Evening: At her home courtyard the bride & her relatives dance out to meet the patinadha & receive the bridal gown. Then the principal members of the patinadha, followed by the bride’s family “dance the bride” (kalamatiano) for an hour or two. Each participant gifts the daulia, takes lead position in the dance line, and invites the bride to dance with him (or her if in the bride’s party) by putting her in front.

Then the patinadha return home. Later, more dancing at the bride’s and groom’s houses. Typical dances include syrto/kalamatiano, tsamiko, hasapiko, the couple dance karsilimas and the solo dances tsifti-telli (women) & zeybekiko (men).

SUNDAY Late morning: Patinadha arrives with truck at the bride’s home to collect her trousseau and gifts, while the women of the bride’s house decorate the truck. The daulia play slow, sad songs, symbolically lamenting the death of the bride’s old way of life.

SUNDAY Afternoon: The patinadha return to the groom’s house, & share a meal. The groom is shaved and dressed by friends, while the daulia play more laments. A third procession, this time including the groom & all his relatives, stride to the bride’s house. The kumbaro/koumbara (“wedding sponsor”, a combination best man or maid of honor, godparent and wedding official, brings the bride white shoes, and she walks in them to the head of the procession, just behind the daulia, followed by entire wedding party, the groom bringing up the rear. All proceed to the church, where the wedding ceremony lasts about 45 minutes.

SUNDAY Afternoon The Wedding: Cowan doesn’t describe the ceremony, but traditional Orthodox ceremonies share many key features. In the Orthodox tradition, the wedding ceremony is actually composed of two services. The first is the Service of Betrothal, or Engagement ceremony, during which the rings (provided by the koumbaro/a) are exchanged 3 times.

The second is the Service of Marriage or Crowning, during which prayers are offered for the couple, the crowns of marriage are placed on their heads, the koumbaro/a exchanges the crowns 3 times, the common cup is shared 3 times, the ceremonial walk takes place around the table 3 times, and the priest blesses the couple 3 times. All 3’s symbolize the Holy Trinity, and the blending of two people into one. The crowns symbolize the couple entering God’s kingdom, the couple’s creation of their own ‘kingdom’, and the sacrifice/suffering to be endured by taking the ‘martyr’s crown’.

SUNDAY After the Wedding: Cowan’s description of a wedding ends at the church, where, in the courtyard, the kumbaro/a begins another “dancing of the bride”, (sighanos & kalamatianos) symbolizing the end of the wedding, and the beginning of the bride’s new life.

Many traditional weddings also included a reception at the groom’s (now the newly married couple’s) home. Nowadays the reception is more commonly held at a rented hall.

Activities may include the bride throwing an old piece of iron on the roof (symbolizing the strength of the new home and marriage bond), and the focal point, the money dance. This involves the bride and groom dancing together while family and guests throw bank notes toward them, or pin the money on their clothes. The money can represent either a way of covering wedding expenses, or a gift for the new household.

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