The Ukrainian Wedding
The wedding in the Ukrainian style becomes more and more popular. It can still be observed almost in its original form in Ukrainian villages. Characteristics of an ancient Ukrainian wedding are festive feasts, traditional cuisine, embroidered shirts, pottery, sunflowers and poppies, motley ribbons and horseshoes. The very process of the wedding is very colorful, and it consists of several stages.
The first stage is a marriage proposal. Respected people are elected as ambassadors from the groom-to-be, and they are called seniors. Often they are godparents of the young man. Those people are responsible for whether there will be starting of a new family, or the young “buyer” will be rejected in the form of the traditional Ukrainian “pumpkin”. Sometimes the parents of the young man or his brothers and sisters come along with the seniors. The conversation is usually flowing in a humorous style. The bride-to-be is sitting in the other room while all that is happening. If the girl likes the groom-to-be, then she ties up the seniors with towels and give her future husband an embroidered handkerchief. If, however, she doesn’t like him, then the bred is returned to the seniors, and the young man is given a pumpkin, in order not to leave the house empty-handed. It is important to emphasize the fact that in a Ukrainian family, the final decision about the marriage is brought by the girl, and not the parents. There is no such thing as a “prearranged marriage” from the childhood in the Ukrainian tradition. This is a positive example among other neighboring countries, where young women are not allowed to have a will of their own in bringing such important decisions as whom to get married to.
After the bride-to-be accepts the proposal, it is time for her to be presented to the parents of the groom-to-be. The bride’s family prepares for this ceremony very thoroughly. The house and the backyard are cleaned up, the tables are decorated with embroidered tablecloths, and all that has the role of signaling to the groom’s family that the bride will be an excellent homemaker. The act of presenting the bride includes demonstration of the dowry, which means that the bride must have gold jewelry, but not only that. The dowry can include land, cattle, and similar material goods.
The future bride and groom are supposed visit their guests a couple of days before the wedding, and taking a deep bow they invite them to come to the wedding. On the day of the wedding, the bridesmaids help the bride dress up. After that, the groom comes in a chaise, but the relatives of the bride won’t let him come in before he pays so-called “ransom” of the bride. This custom exists in some Ukrainian villages even today. After the ransom, the bride and the groom go to church for the wedding. While leaving the church, the newlyweds are sprinkled with grain. On arriving home, the bride and the groom traditionally eat some bread dipped in salt. This custom is practiced in order to ensure well-being and wealth by eating bred, and to scare evil spirits off with salt. After that, the real Ukrainian feast with gorilka and traditional dishes starts.