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Wedding Ceremony Rituals in Greece

In Greece wedding ceremony rituals are deeply immersed in culture and tradition.

Greek people believe in rituals and superstitions so therefore the celebrations of an engagement and marriage ceremony are colourful and showy occasions.

The engagement

The Greek engagement is a big celebration. The future husband will ask the future brides father for the permission to marry his daughter. On the approval of the marriage the date is arranged for the engagement, and all close family and friends attend. The couple will traditionally get engaged in the presence of family and friends. The priest will first bless the rings, then the bride and groom place the ring on each others left ring fingers. The guests then wish them well for the future. After this a large banquet is held for the celebration. In Greece the engagement is thought to be as obligatory as the wedding. In the Greek orthodox religion the couple are expected to visit the priest a few times before he approves of the wedding ceremony ritual. There are certain dates during the year that the Greek Orthodox Church regard as unsuitable to get married; this includes the first half of August, 40 days before Christmas and 40 days before Easter.

Wedding Ceremony

After the engagement ceremony, the next thing to do is to choose a Koumbaros. This is a witness to the marriage, and he has to be an important man and must have a good reputation within the Greek Orthadox religion. The Koumbaros will have financial and religious responsibilities. The Greek wedding nearly always takes place on a Sunday. From the Wednesday previous to the wedding the rituals begin with 'Starting the Leaven'. This is where the couple sieve the flour and family watch quietly, when there is ample flour; the guests toss coins into the sieve and wish the couple good luck. On the Friday before the ceremony another ritual takes place called 'Filling the Sack'. This is when the bride fills in sacks all of her belongings. The Mother of the bride is the first to put her assortment of things in the sacks that she has collected over the years. These tend to be second hand household wares and the custom is known as Nyphostoli. Local women will offer help to furnish the newly married couples first home. The groom will meet with family and friends and for a drink and offer an official invitation to the wedding ceremony.

The Greek wedding ceremony ritual begins at the groom's house where the wedding flag is raised. The flag carrier escorts the priest, the groom and the guests to the bride's home. The Mother of the bride offers him wine; when he has drunk it the koumbaro heads the wedding guests to the church. The ceremony in church starts with the priest blessing the rings and reading passages from the Bible. The Koumbra swaps the rings 3 times between the bride and groom's fingers. This is to show the weak spot of one will be compensated by the other. The couple are presented with a pair of lit candles that signify the eternal light of Jesus Christ. Crowning is an iconic ritual of the Greek wedding ceremony where the priest takes 2 crowns (or stefana) and places them on the couple's head. The Koumbra will then invite the newlyweds to take their first step together by walking around 3 times where the Holy Bible and cross rest in the alter. At the end of the ceremony the priest blesses the couple and they head off to the groom's house where the flag is raised again. The bride throws a piece of iron on the roof as a symbol of her new life ahead. In Greek tradition the bride's parents pay the cost of the wedding reception.

The Greek traditional wedding outfit for the bride is a white gown with a long trailing train and a black suit with a bow tie for the groom. The bride will wear a yellow or red veil, this is to symbolise fire and protect her from evil, and she will also carry a lump of sugar to warrant a sweet future. The Greek wedding ceremony and its rituals are a significant part of the culture and lifestyle and a special event enjoyed by everyone.