Wedding holds a special place in the heart of Cretan people. It is surrounded with all mystery and purity of ceremony that ensures the continuity of family and life it. Wedding is undoubtedly the happiest moment in someone’s life.
«How beautiful can the beautiful be, five and ten times but nothing is more beautiful than a man and a woman together».
It is the most important moment in someone’s life combining gracefully a series
of ceremonial doing into cultural religious act.
Greek Church weddings are all performed to ancient Orthodox traditions which are very different from other European countries.
Some days before the wedding the marriage bed is made up in the couple's new home or in the groom's house in the village. The bed is made up three times from handmade lace which can form part of the bride's dowry. This tradition can only be performed by unmarried women. The bed is covered with rose petals and sugared almonds and presents and money are placed on it by family and friends.
The wedding itself usually takes place in the evening. The father of the bride gives her away at the entrance to the church, where the groom waits with a bouquet of flowers. The bridal party then accompany the bride and the groom to the front of the church where the ceremony begins. The ceremony consists of four main stages, the order of which can change depending on the priest. Each stage is performed three times to symbolise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
The bible is presented to the bride and groom three times while the priest chants prayers in ancient Greek The couple must kiss the bible when it is presented. The rings are placed on the bible and the priest places them on the right hand of the bride and groom.
The crowns form a very important part of the ceremony as the ribbons that join the two symbolise the joining together of two lives. They are crossed over the heads of the bride and the groom and the couple then walk around the table with the priest three times whilst the congregation shower them with rice. The chalice of wine is given to the couple by the Best Man and they must each take three sips from it.
Should the bride not wish to take a vow to obey her husband, then she has to stamp on his foot. At the end of the ceremony the whole bridal party stand in a receiving line inside the church and all guests pass by to congratulate the couple and to collect a bonboniere which contains sugared almonds. The almond symbolises fertility, and the sugar a sweet life. Any single women should sleep with the almond under their pillow and they will then dream of the man they are destined to marry.
The married couple have to take the tops from the large candies in the church, the wedding crowns and some sugared almonds to their home in order to guarantee happiness in their married life.
You would think that with three thousand guests the newlyweds would go bankrupt. And had they gotten married in any place other than Crete, they would. But in Cretan villages, “γαμoπίλαφο” (Cretan traditional wedding risotto) doesn’t come cheap. Traditional wedding gifts – the faithful toaster, pots and pans, and dishes – just don’t cut it in Crete. Cash is the key word. The bare minimum for someone to attend a wedding in Anogia is around one hundred euros. If you happen to be close to the couple you would have to stick a month’s salary in the tiny white «φακελάκι», a small white envelope with your name on it. With three thousand guests and an average of 150 euros each, that’s real money-enough for a new car (or two), a couple of years rent, even a nice chunk of the couple’s future down payment. Hilarious stories about people stuffing tissues instead of money and “forgetting” to write their names on them are a common joke amongst Cretans.
Μπαλοθιές (Cretan word for meaningless gun shooting)
Ηandguns are virtually banned for private citizens unless you are a member of a shooting sportsman’s club or-apparently- if you come from Crete and have a wedding to attend. To be fair, weddings in towns are fairly civilized, but when it comes to villages, to a foreigner, a Cretan wedding seems like war with music and dancing. The lirari usually gives the signal. Best case scenario is you are going deaf for a couple of days. Stay calm if you happen to see a cartridge landing on your plate. Hide under the table if necessary. Even if you complain, the answer you will most likely get is that they are “careful” along with a brief history of the Cretan revolution against the Turks, the Arabs, the Venetians, the Germans, mixed with Kazantzaki’s “Freedom and Death” masterpiece and a tint of irrelevant information about Crete’s social geography. Give it up. Don’t attempt to convince them otherwise. It’s a lost cause.
- See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2011/08/14/survival-guide-for-big-fat-expensive-cretan-weddings/#sthash.BzeuERZ6.dpuf
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