Why do people exchange rings on the wedding day? Why do they break the dishes and shower the husband and wife to be with different food? That is just because these are customs of a traditional Ukrainian wedding, which is very interesting and is worth talking about.
Not many people know that long time ago any wedding lasted for about one week, and was one of the most important events in every person’s life. However nowadays, in our dynamic world we can let ourselves maximum two days for this celebration. Nevertheless, the meaning of the wedding is the same – to unite two loving hearts.
To tell you the truth, an average Ukrainian wedding is a mixture of old traditions like: tender of marriage, marriage service, bride price, and the new ones: going to the registry office, having brides maids and the best men, a wedding trip, a honeymoon, etc.
No matter if the wedding takes place in a church or in a registry office, a husband and wife to be exchange the rings. What does this mean? Since ancient times any ring has been a symbol of eternal love and loyalty between a man and a woman. That is why a wedding ring is considered to have neither beginning nor end, being the symbol of never-ending feelings between a couple.
Why do they wear wedding rings on the ring finger? It is believed that ring fingers on our hands are inseparable, that is why if the just married couple do not want to divorce, they have to wear their wedding rings on exactly these fingers. In Ukraine it is traditional to wear a wedding ring on the right hand finger.
A wedding round loaf of bread is an integral attribute of any Ukrainian wedding. So, when the just married couple arrives to the wedding reception, they are met by their parents holding this bread with a little bowl of salt on it. Both a husband and a wife have to break off a piece of this bread (the size does not matter, however the bigger it is, the funnier), plunge it into salt and feed each other, meaning that this is the last bad thing they will do to each other.
Another good tradition of a Ukrainian wedding is for the groom to enter the house holding the bride in his arms. This custom appeared because Slavs believed that the bride is unprotected from evil spirits, waiting for her on the ground. So, to trick them, she was held in the arms. It is interesting that nowadays grooms enter not only the house holding the bride in their arms, but also the church, the registration office and even the restaurant.
When the just married couple go out of the registration office or house, their guests shower them with wheat and coins, wishing them fertility and wealth. And after the wedding service the bride throws sweets at her guests, sharing her happiness with them.
There is also a tradition to break the dishes or glasses during the wedding “for the happiness”. It is also believed that if they break into big pieces, the first baby to a family will be a boy, and if they break into small pieces, a girl will be the first child in the family.
Another traditional feature of a Ukrainian wedding is to cover the bride’s head with veil, which is the symbol of innocence. In ancient times it had to protect the bride from the evil spirits. That is why, when Ukrainian girls were getting married, they were wearing a colourful bridal circlet of flowers made of roses, lilies, wheat, guilder rose branches, leaves of hops and grapes and a clove of garlic. The image was completed with long wide colourful ribbons. Nowadays veil has replaced this wonderful accessory; however no one will dare to say it looks less beautiful.
No wedding nowadays can do without throwing the bride’s bouquet to unmarried girls. Like in any part of the world it is believed that the one, who catches the bouquet, will get married soon. That is why it is always very entertaining to watch the girls fight for their possible happiness!
As you can see, Ukrainian people have many wedding traditions, which make any Ukrainian wedding unique and rich. So, if you are interested to learn more, come and take part in this event in any role. I am sure you will enjoy it.