In this picture:
“The bride’s friend does the traditional scarf blessing where the scarf is crossed across her chest twice and then wrapped around her three times. This probably symbolizes fertility”
This contemporary Greek Cypriot wedding was held in the Limassol District of Cyprus on Saturday 29th October 2011.
The edit shown here is a 31minute cut down version of the six hour, 3 DVD box set.
Watch out for these Greek wedding traditions:
The groom’s shave:
Whilst a violin plays, a traditional song praises the groom whilst the ‘koumbaro’ (an orthodox version of the ‘best man’) gives the groom a ceremonial ‘last shave”. The ceremony includes dressing the groom with his shirt, waistcoat and cravat.
Kapnisma (Holy smoke):
Olive leaves are burned in a vessel called a ‘kapnistiri’. This is moved three times in a circular motion around the bride and groom’s head by family and friends to ward off evil spirits.
Before they set off to church, a red scarf is wrapped around the bride and groom three times by their parents and close family and friends. For the woman this signifies her virginity and for the man his fertility.
The bride’s shoes:
Before the bride puts on her shoes she lists all her unmarried friend’s names on the sole of her shoe. At the end of the night she takes it off and the name which still appears on the shoe is the girl who will be married next!
Hairetisis (welcoming ceremony):
Welcoming the guests to the reception are the bride and groom, parents, koumbaros and koumeres. Standing for hours, they greet all the guests as they arrive to congratulate the family and discreetly accept a ‘fakelaki’ (envelope) containing a monetary gift.
Sugar Almonds and red ribbon:
The sugar coated almonds which are placed on the tray with the crowns and which will later be offered to the guests are also symbolic. The white symbolises purity, the egg shape represents fertility and the new life which begins with marriage. The hardness of the almond represents the endurance of marriage and the sweetness of the sugar symbolises the sweetness of future life. The odd number of almonds is indivisible, just as a couple the bride and groom shall remain undivided. After the ceremony the almonds and ribbon are shared amongst the single women who apparently if the ribbon is placed under their pillow that night they will see in their dreams the man they will marry.
What happened to the money dance?
This famous Greek tradition is becoming rarer in the contemporary wedding and has been replaced by the ‘fakelaki’ (envelope) during the ‘hairetisis’ (welcoming ceremony).
Did you have this scarf blessing custom performed on you at your wedding? Please share – we would love to hear from you!