Simple but Meaningful Marriage Traditions in Ukraine

Why do people exchange rings getting married? Why do they break the dishes and shower the husband and wife to be with different food? Everything is simple: those are the constituent parts of a Ukrainian traditional wedding, which is very interesting and is worth talking about.

Not many people know that being one of the most significant events for every person, a long time ago Ukrainian weddings lasted for about a week. However nowadays, in our dynamic world, we can let ourselves have a maximum of two days to celebrate. Nevertheless, the meaning of the ceremony is the same – to unite two loving hearts.

To tell you the truth, average weddings in Ukraine are a mixture of old and new customs like tender of marriage, bride price, putting church door wedding wreaths, going to the registry office, having brides’ maids, and the best men, a honeymoon, etc.

No matter if the ceremony is held in a church or in a registry office, a husband and wife-to-be exchange the rings. What does it mean? Since ancient times any band has been a symbol of epic love and loyalty between a man and a woman. Therefore, people believe a wedding band has no beginning or end and symbolizes never-ending feelings between a couple. In Ukraine, it is traditional to wear it on the right-hand ring finger.

A round loaf of bread is an integral attribute of any Ukrainian marriage ceremony. So, when the newlyweds arrive at the 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 (the size does not matter, however, the bigger it is, the funnier), plunge it into salt and feed each other, meaning this is the last bad thing they do to each other.

Another good tradition in Ukraine is for the groom to enter the house holding the bride in his arms. The custom appeared because Slavs believed she was unprotected from evil spirits waiting on the ground. So, to trick them, she was held in the arms. Interestingly, nowadays grooms enter not only the house holding the lady in their arms but also the church, the registration office, and even the restaurant.

What else do we do on the day? When the just married go out of the registration office or house, their guests shower them with wheat and coins, wishing them fertility and wealth. And later, the fiancée throws sweets at the guests, sharing her happiness with them.

There is also a practice to break the dishes or glasses “for happiness”. It is also believed 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-comer.

Covering the bride’s head with a veil, which is the symbol of innocence, is among the most respected marriage traditions in Ukraine. In ancient times it had to protect the girl from the evil spirits. So, when girls were getting married, they were wearing a colorful bridal circlet of flowers made of roses, lilies, wheat, guelder rose branches, leaves of hops and grapes, and a clove of garlic. The image was completed with long wide colorful ribbons. Nowadays veil has replaced this wonderful accessory; however, nobody may dare to say it looks less beautiful.

No wedding nowadays can do without throwing the bride’s bouquet. Any unmarried girl taking part in a Ukrainian wedding wishes to catch it. Like in any part of the world the one, who catches the bouquet, could get married soon, which makes watching the girls fight always really entertaining!

As you can see, Ukrainian wedding traditions are numerous, which makes this event unique and rich. So, if you are interested in learning more, come and take part in it in any role. I am sure you will enjoy it.

Valeria Matskevich With Love