It’s been awhile since we did a post on wedding traditions. We’ve covered French, Italian and Southern Belle customs so far, and our Irish wedding traditions was one of our most popular posts, in case you missed it. Of course lots of different countries weddings, particularly those with origins in the Christian church, have many similarities in their traditions. I find the points at which they differ to be pretty interesting though, and today we’re going to take a look at wedding traditions in Greece (warning: get ready for lots of dancing!)
Stefana Wedding Crowns
The bride and groom are adorned with crowns at the climax of the wedding ceremony. These are connected with ribbon to symbolise their relationship, and the crowns themselves signify them as the respective ‘king’ and ‘queen’ of their household to come. The crowns can be made of twigs wrapped in gold or silver, flowers, vines or precious stones or metals. I have heard that the custom is to keep the crowns forever, and it is not until death that the ribbon between them is cut, the crowns then buried with each partner.
It is custom for the couple to use the same ring for both the engagement and the wedding. When the engagement takes place the priest blesses each ring and the couple wear them on the left hand until the wedding, where they are blessed again and switched to the couple’s right hands.
No vows are exchanged in the church ceremony, as it is accepted that the couple are serious about marriage by the fact that they are appearing in the church on their wedding day.
The dancers hold hands in a circle, moving counter-clockwise. The lead dancer is the one at the right end of the line and may be connected to the person next to him by holding a handkerchief or scarf between them- this allows him to dance more elaborately and twirl without letting go of the dancing line. The Syrtos dance is slower than its counterpart, the Kalamatianós.
The dancers hold hands in a circle and twirl counter-clockwise for 10 steps, then switch to a clockwise direction for 2 steps. The stepping may lead to jumping or squatting as the dance continues (if the dancers are able!) and the lead dancer again holds a handkerchief as in the Syrtos dance.
The Koumbaro and Koumbara are the best man and maid of honour respectively. The Koumbaro is in charge of putting the rings on the couple during the wedding ceremony and also for passing the Stefana wedding crowns over their heads in the crowning ceremony. The Koumbaro and Koumbara are often asked to be the godparents (Nouno and Nouna) of the couple’s first child.
Ivy in Bouquet
Ivy is often incorporated into the bridal bouquet, as in Greece it is a symbol of everlasting love and protection. (It also makes a gorgeous trailing bouquet!)
“Long life to you!”: This is often wished by the guests for the couple after the ceremony as they leave the church.
Image Credits: Exchanging Rings: Fly Away Bride | Crowns: Anna Roussos via Fly Away Bride | Rings: Branco Prata via 100 Layer Cake | Dancing: Michael Wachniak | Ivy Bouquet: Brown Butter Photography via 100 Layer Cake |