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traditional Weddings in UKRAINE

(about weddings in ukraine: wedding ceremony s & wedding feasts)


About weddings in Ukraine,
Ukrainian wedding tradition & customs,
Ukrainian brides & grooms,
engagements in Ukraine.


Ukrainian Weddings

Given their common Slavic roots and culture, it is not surprising that Ukrainian weddings are very similar to Russian weddings. Having said this, there are still some differences.

Like in Russia, Ukrainian weddings traditionally began with a courtship whereby the parents of the groom would choose a bride for their son. This would have been carried out with the approval of the bride's parents. However this tradition is no longer observed. Nowadays, the couple may sometimes request their parents' approval of the union but they choose their partners themselves.

On the day of the wedding, the groom's first duty is to pick up his bride from her house. Before he meets his loved one he is met by relatives and friends who will demand a ransom for the bride. This is the most special and exciting part of the whole affair. The groom must complete several tasks in order to demonstrate his strength and intellect. If he fails to complete a task, then he must give out money, sweets and liquor to the guests. The result of his efforts is the possession of his loved one. This tradition remains popular to this day. After the groom's challenges, the young couple will go to the ZAGS (Registry Office) and then the church (if they so choose). A celebration of the events usually follows the registration of the marriage.

In the past, Ukrainian weddings would begin with a celebration in the bride's home once the groom had paid his ransom for the bride. At the house there would be a celebratory meal and several traditional activities. For example the guests may untie the bride's braid or sometimes even cut it off and replace it with a wreath. After observing these traditions, the young couple will go to the groom's house, where the bride will cover the table with her rushnyk (ritual towel). Nowadays this tradition has become outdated and Ukrainian weddings have become more equated to the European style of wedding where the reception is held in a restaurant or banqueting hall.

Despite the loss of some traditions, the guests still present the young couple with a karavai loaf. As a rule, the loaf is baked only by those women whose family life has been very successful as it is said to bring good luck to the young couple in their own family life. On the way to the wedding or directly in front of the building where the wedding feast is held, the groom and bride will release two doves. 

One of the distinguishing parts of a Ukrainian wedding is that a giltse (a large wreath which is decorated with flowers and ribbons) is placed on the table next to the karavai loaf. This symbolises maidenly beauty and innocence. On her head, the Ukrainian bride will wear a wreath with different coloured cascading ribbons. At the end of the festivities, the Ukranian bride will throw the wreath into a crowd of unmarried girls. The person who catches the wreath will become the next bride. This tradition is very similar to the European tradition where the bride throws her bouquet into the crowd. It has been said that the European tradition of throwing a bouquet into the crowd came from the Ukrainian tradition of throwing wreathes, however, nowadays Ukrainian weddings usually conform to European traditions. Like in Russian weddings, in Ukraine there is a tradition to steal the bride. The groom must then search for her. Also, the witnesses must drink liquor from the bride's shoe; although this is a modern tradition and has no obvious symbolic meaning.

Ukrainian weddings usually last for not one but two days. On the second day, the guests will dress up as the bride and groom, gypsies, grandfathers, grandmothers and doctors and wander about the streets singing songs. Like all weddings, Ukrainian marriage ceremonies involve much noise and happiness with music, dances, toasts and shouts of gor'ko after which the couple must kiss.

The host of the occasions will organise fun games, poems and little ditties. Guests usually give the couple useful, practical gifts, which will be helpful to the couple in their married life. Accepting the gifts is no easy matter. The bride and groom must show interest in every gift. They must unwrap the present, study it and then express their gratitude to the guest. The money usually goes to the groom, and other items and flowers go to the bride.


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Author of article "Ukrainian weddings": Alisa.

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Ukrainian weddings : about wedding and marriage customs in Ukraine

Ukraine weddings, Ukrainian brides, Ukraine engagements