Ukrainian Wedding Traditions

krainian wedding traditions vary in details depending on the region, and especially whether a wedding takes place in a village or in a city.

As a rule, a rural wedding, particularly in the western Ukrainian regions, is a picturesque event, full of symbolic rituals in which almost the whole village celebrates a creation of a new strong family.

Nevertheless, there is a set of important elements. Ukrainian wedding traditions procedure starts from the formal engagement, when a bride-groom together with two elder men (“starosty”) visits his future bride’s place and asks her parents her hand.

In case she agrees, they receive traditional embroidered towels. Nowadays, of course, before making such visit a young man knows (or at least assumes) beforehand, that he will receive a positive response. However, if a bride doesn’t agree, a poor man will probably receive a pumpkin.

A couple of days before the wedding itself, bride’s and groom’s families bake special wedding bread (‘korovoay’). A young couple visit their relatives and friends and invite them to their wedding ceremony.

Both bride and groom have their last parties with their friends of the same sex two or three days before wedding. Traditionally, girls weave periwinkle or making a ritual tree and sing sad folk song, but today such party is usually completed with visiting a night club.

The wedding ceremony, which normally consists of official civil marriage ceremony and church service, takes place on Saturday or Sunday. Even thought church and state are officially separated in Ukraine, Orthodox priests usually demands marriage certificate or official statement of intention to get married.

The official ceremony in the registry office, for its part, contains a great deal of folk traditions: for instance, a young couple should stand on the embroidered towel spread on the floor. It is said that the one who will manage to step on the towel first will play a leading part in the family.

A young couple is normally wearing a western-style black suit and white dress. However, with the increasing interest in reviving Ukrainian traditions, bride and groom can choose national costumes, primarily for church wedding ceremony.

Compulsory part of a modern Ukrainian wedding is a long photoshoot process. A bride and a groom are taken all around a city or village, they pose next to monuments, in parks and riversides. That is way, until the end of the day, when it is time to go to the restaurant, a young happy couple is already tired.

According to Ukrainian wedding traditions meal is very full and includes many courses. Apart from eating and dinking, guests are delivering speeches, and bowing “Girko!” (literary translated as “bitter”), which means that a young couple should kiss. The party is full of funny and sometimes bizarre events.

For example, some guests try to steal a bride and demand a ransom for her return. A groom proves his devotion to bride’s family, particularly to his mother-in-law: he presents her a pair of boots and puts them on her feet, firstly cleaning them.

Ukrainian wedding officially ends with the tradition of covering a bride with the kerchief, which means that from now on she is a wife.

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