Ukrainian wedding, being one of the most wonderful events in the country`s culture, is usually held according to special authentic traditions. There are numerous wedding ceremonies and rituals in Ukraine. In old times, a wedding celebration could last for the whole week. The most important and serious rituals include betrothal, blessing, matrimony and other, but there are also many joyful, funny and amusing traditions which are used to entertain the newly-weds and the guests.
Stealing the bride
This tradition comes from the old times, when Slavic young men chose brides and took them to their houses. In that time, it was quite serious, but nowadays stealing the bride is just a romantic wedding game. The bride suddenly disappears in the middle of celebration, and then wedding coordinator or one of the guests has to say something like “The bride is missing!” to start the game. Then a person, who plays the role of “thief”, comes into the room and shows a shoe of the bride to confirm that the girl has been “stolen”. Groom and the guests have to start searching for the bride. They usually have to pay a ransom to the “thief”, to take part in contests and to carry out different tasks to get the bride back. The tasks must be humorous and easy to do. For example, the best man has to take a bridesmaid in his arms and to carry her around a chair in 10 different ways. The contests may include dancing, singing or looking for the bride with the help of a map.
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“Boots” (“Choboty” in Ukrainian) is an old funny tradition, which symbolizes establishing good relationship between groom and his mother-in-law. According to the rules, the groom has to buy new beautiful boots for the mother of his bride before the wedding. In the wedding day, he invites his mother-in-law in the center of the celebration room. While she sits on a chair, groom has to wash her feet properly and to put new boots on them, expressing his love and respect to his mother-in-law. The ritual is accompanied by traditional folk songs and dances around the groom and bride`s mother. Nowadays, this tradition is rarely used in its full version. Usually groom chooses the light variant of “Boots”, presenting new boots or some other good gift to his mother-in-law, or just having a symbolic dance with her.
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According to the old Ukrainian traditions, the dressing up (“Ryazhennia”) ritual has to be held in the merry atmosphere of the second day of wedding. The main roles in this ritual are played by two guests, a girl and a guy, dressed up just like the newly-weds. The “false newly-weds” are allowed to have their own party, the guests congratulate “newly-married” girl and guy, sing songs, dance folk dances and do everything to pretend that they really celebrate the wedding of dressed-up couple. In Pagan times, the people used this tradition to cheat the evil spirits and to draw their attention away from the real young-marrieds.
Taking off the veil
This is a tender and beautiful tradition, rules of which significantly vary depending on the region of Ukraine where the wedding is held. This ritual symbolizes accepting a new member into the family. According to the rules, the veil has to be taken off by bride`s mother-in-law. First, the groom tries to take off the veil himself in order to show that the girl has already become his wife. The bride resists him jokingly, pretending that she is still not ready to say goodbye to her independence and freedom. Then the mother-in-law comes to the bride and takes off her veil. After that, she puts a kerchief on bride`s head. Then bride can have a dance with all her unmarried girl-friends and let each of them try on her beautiful veil. In such way, bride wishes them to meet their beloved men and to get married as soon as possible. This ritual usually takes place in the end of the wedding.
Ukrainians are famous for their creativity, hospitality and uncommon approaches to celebrations, so their weddings are always bright and unforgettable.
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