The Bride’s Survival Guide: Greek Wedding Traditions And The Meanings Behind Them
If you are planning to have a Greek-themed wedding, then start thinking about a Greek wedding dress. Greeks are rich when it comes to wedding traditions to choose for your wedding.
Whether you want to hightail it to Greece for your wedding celebrations, finding a church of the Eastern Orthodox, or weaving in a bit of the Greek culture in your secular ceremony, might give you something to celebrate about the Greek traditions.
The celebrations that accompany Greek traditions are full of a lot of cultural meaning. From dance to food to religious customs and back, you will be embracing tambourines to join the fun-filled ceremony before you know it.
It is time to find out the meanings that are behind some of the unique Greek wedding traditions to enable you to incorporate some into your wedding.
- Stefana crowns: The Greek tradition of placing a white, delicate crown on the bride and groom’s head is said to originate way back in the 11th century and up to date, is one of the Greek wedding tradition that is quite important. Greek wedding ceremonies do have an elaborate ritual when it comes to crowns.
The priest places the crown on both the groom and bride’s head. It is then followed by the Koumbaros, who are the wedding sponsors, intertwining the crowns, three times, symbolic of the union of the couple. The crowns finally are tied together with a ribbon.
- Martyrika or Greek wedding witness pins: Once the wedding ceremony comes to an end, the Greek tradition, Koumbaros, who is the wedding sponsor, hands over a tiny lapel pin with a small ribbon onto the wedding guests. The Greek-themed wedding traditions, colors are blue, white, or pink, and others tend to have a small cross at the center. They are meant to symbolize the wedding guests’ sacrament for witnessing the wedding.
- Tiropita, Yuvetsi, and Baklava: In any wedding ceremony, food tends to be one of the most important things at weddings, and the Greek wedding traditions are not left out. Even though Greek American weddings have a diverse and rich selection when it comes to Greek foods to pick from, certain dishes will always show up on a menu for a Greek tradtional wedding. Yuvetsi refers to a lamb or beef stew with something known as orzo; baklava is the pastry that is sweetened using nuts and honey, while the tiropita refers to the cheese pastry.
- Kalamatiano: It is a Greek festive wedding dance that shares its name with the ancient folk dance for Greek people. But when it comes to a Greek wedding, it is a dance that has a very special meaning. The bride is required to stand in the middle with her maid of honor being on her immediate left; the female guests then can hold their hands and ensure that they encircle the two. Though traditionally it is a women-only affair, you might see a few men joining into it also.
- Zembekiko: To avoid being discriminated by the ladies, the Zembekiko dance is for the men in the bridal party of the groom: the groom together with his best man and all the groomsmen, plus any other men available at the wedding reception. It is a circle dance similar to the Kalamatiano for the ladies, and it is specifically for those who aren’t joining in the to clap and kneel along with the music as the groom can dance to it
- The Greek wedding dance referred to as the dollar dance: Immediately, the reception has been filled; there is a Greek traditional dollar dance that is initiated. One of the various Greek American customs which was brought from Greece, it is a playful dance that happens with the newlyweds whereby, the guests reward them with dollars being tossed on the dance floor, or pinning the dollars on the attire of the couple.
It is an optional thing when it comes to the guests to throw the dollars. It is not a substitute for the wedding gift but just a symbolic, fun way to be able to congratulate the couples for getting married.
If there is one aspect of the Greek tradition that you should anticipate at Greek themed weddings is dancing. More dancing comes one after the other. And even when finishing off the night, there is more dancing.
So whether you want to add some Greek wedding dance into your modern Greek wedding or are looking forward to participating in a Greek-themed first dance at your wedding, you need to ensure that all the steps are right before you show them off to your guests.
It is true that you will want to be prepared with the right moves, rhythmically at your first dance or as you entertain the guests with some Greek wedding songs at the wedding reception, but the truth is that the dances are not complex and thus, you will easily learn them using some YouTube guide.
- Bomboniere or Jordan almonds: For guests in a Greek wedding, the tradition of being able to hand out almonds that are candy-coated as a wedding favor is one of the aspects of a Greek wedding that is memorable. Bomboniere is a wedding tradition for enduring, and it present in Orthodox wedding ceremonies for over three millennia.
It is normally a sweet-salty combination that symbolizes the ups and downs of life and the hope that is there, which will be sweeter than the bitterness experienced. In most instances, the couples give an odd number of almonds as a favor to their guests to show the unified power that their marriage will have with five being the traditional number that is embraced. Each of the almonds is symbolic of the hopes that the couple has for their life together: fertility, health, long life, happiness, and wealth.
Dancing might be the Greek tradition that you can easily embrace in your first dance at the wedding reception. Show your guests how well you are making those great moves to the traditional Greek songs. For other ideas to incorporate into your wedding, check the ultimate bride’s survival guide.
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