martedì 2 giugno 2009

Traditional wedding in Cyprus

Traditional wedding in Cyprus
Postato da: Nikos Lekkos

There is no doubt about the fact that the wedding ceremonies are bright in every culture. It is the beginning for the commitment of marriage. This commitment, in the western cultures is a lifelong one.
In Cyprus the wedding ceremony is following the Orthodox Christian tradition but it has a lot of ancient Greek elements too.
Creating a family was the most important mission of a person during the past centuries. It wasn't only the need for a companion to share life; It was the need to keep the Greek character of the island and the society against the many conquerors of the island.(Venetians, Ottomans, British)
The wedding was a long chain of events. No one could break a ring of it.
In those times the parents had the right and the duty to decide the husband or the wife for their child. Sometimes they didn't even inform their child for their plans. The fathers had a meeting and they were taking the decision for the wedding. Usually, the father of the groom was making the first step. In other cases there was a special person, trusted by the community, who was responsible for transferring the messages between the two families.
The dowry agreement was a kind of contract. In this contract the wife's father was writing down all the things he was going to give to the new couple (house, farms, animals, clothing, and money). Witnesses were the local priest, the teacher and the president of the community. That agreement had the power of a low.
When the agreement between the families was announced in public, the couple was officially engaged. The period of the engagement could last 1 year. (Only in cases of death in the family could last till three years). The couple could attend together social events.
The couple's parents were going door to door inviting relatives, friends and neighbors for the wedding. The wedding was always on Sundays with full moon (ancient Greek custom). Weddings weren't allowed (till now) during fasting periods (40 days before Christmas, 50 days before Easter, from the 1st till the 15th of August). The guests weer given a candle and sweet bread. The people who were accepting the invitation were responding : Ora Kali (free translation: we are wishing a happy time, a good time). In the cities, the girl's father had to make all the expenses for the wedding. In the agricultural areas, due to the people's poverty, the expenses were shared between the two families.
The wedding.
On Saturday, before the wedding, the musicians (violin and lute players) were going to the bride's house. There seven single women were filling up the mattress with cotton and wool. They were putting four red crosses on the mattress for blessing. At the same time they had all the dowries in common view. After this the best men (always more than one) were taking the mattress on their shoulders and they were dancing with it. The guests were throwing money on it, to support the new couple. After finishing the dance they were putting a baby or a young child on the mattress for luck in having children.
On Sunday they were preparing the couple for the wedding. The groom was shaved by the barber and dressed up by his friends who were dancing carrying his clothes (the traditional vraka). The bride was dressed up by her friends. Their parents were blessing them by putting around their body a red textile and making the sign of the cross with it. They used to put jewelry around the bride's neck.
The two young people were going separately to the church, but both of them accompanied by music. There, after kissing the parents in low right had, they were entering the church. The ceremony in the church is exactly the same till now. It is the Byzantine tradition of the Orthodox church. (a new article about this will come later).
After the ceremony the festivities were taking 3 days and 3 nights with plenty of food and plenty of dances.
When they were going to their new home the groom was breaking a pomegranate on the first step. This action has symbolic character. They believed that in this way the prosperity of the just married couple was sure.
During the wedding party the bride had to make a kinky joke in loud. That was a sign that she was a member of the married women society (ancient Greek custom). If the bride was ashamed to say it her mother was saying loudly: Say it daughter your mother and your grandmothers said it a long time ago!!!

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