A Greek wedding is among the most joyous occasions; heartfelt wedding customs can make it even more special. It’s a significant event for your family and your spouse. Your two souls’ sacred union is a festive occasion filled with heartwarming, sentimental, and romantic moments. So this is a fantastic moment for the new, even bigger family to get close.
Greek weddings are rooted in Culture and history, with several traditions and rituals passed down from parent to child from decades to decades. The history of Greek wedding traditions is extensive and complex, extending back thousands of years which one can enjoy a lot while living or visiting Greece. Being a tourist attending a Greek wedding or an ex-pat getting married in Greece, you should know all the rituals associated with Greek weddings.
Some of the most famous Greek wedding traditions and customs are listed below:
It’s the wedding day!
According to Greek Orthodox custom, some dates in the calendar should be avoided at all costs since they are said to bring bad luck. They consist of the following:
The forty days before Easter.
The first two weeks of August, when Mary is honored on these days.
August 29th is the anniversary of Saint John the Baptist’s passing.
September 14th, when the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is commemorated.
The Forty Days Before Christmas
The ideal months for getting married are January and June. Ancient people celebrated Hera, the goddess of fertility and the wife of Zeus, during the entire month of January. Hera was renamed Juno by the Romans, who also gave the sixth month of the year in her honor. As a result, June came to be known as a particular month.
Koumbaro And The Koumbara
As a symbol of trust between the two men, the groom’s best man, or “koumbaro,” shaves his head the morning of the wedding. Other customs include having the groom’s friends button his shirt or put on his jacket as a symbolic indication of their participation in the preparations for the big day.
As part of the ancient traditions that persist even in modern-day Greece, they occasionally put a bit of iron in the groom’s pocket to help ward off evil spirits.
The bride’s friends also assist her in getting dressed. Her “koumbara,” or maid of honor, is beside her during the entire ceremony, even before it begins. The practice of writing the names of all the bride’s unmarried pals on the bottom of her wedding shoes is a treasured tradition. They will all wear off by the night’s end, signifying that the buddies won’t be single for long and will soon be getting married.
To have a “sweet life,” brides frequently stuff a sugar cube into their glove or have one sewn into the inside of their gown. The bride looks at her home before heading to the church, hoping her offspring will follow in her family’s footsteps.
Wedding Shoes For The Bride
In some regions of Greece, the groom presents the bride with her wedding shoes. While she is getting ready, the Koumbaro hand over shoes to her, and since she claims they are too big, an entire charade begins.
The Koumbaro adjusts the shoes by stuffing them with cash until they suit her. Lastly, each unmarried bridesmaid signs their name on the bottom of the shoes. By the time the wedding day ends, the names on the shoes will have been wedded.
Preparation Of The Wedding Bed And Throwing Of Rice
The setting up of the wedding bed, which typically happens the night before the wedding, is another wedding custom. The ceremony is simple and varies nationwide, but it is popular in many major cities. To ensure love, wealth, and fertility, the bride’s mother and grandmother cover the bed with flower petals, money, and koufeta.
If they are unmarried ladies, the bride’s attendants may occasionally assist in making the bed for the couple. In some situations, a newborn is rolled over the bed to ensure fertility, and superstition holds that the gender of the infant that is rolled across the bed predicts the gender of the couple’s first child.
According to a greek expert wedding planner, Tracy explains, “It’s customary for guests to toss rice at the newlyweds for good luck, frequently before the priest had formally declared their marriage!” Although this still occurs in highly traditional settings and rural places, it is becoming less frequent because it is difficult to clean up, especially if there are other weddings that weekend at the church.
The Betrothal Service And Blessings Of Ring Exchange
The exchange of rings is Betrothal’s symbol. Throughout the ceremony, various things are frequently done in groups of three; practically everything is done in odd numbers. The number three symbolizes the Holy Trinity, which comprises the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
In the name of the Holy Trinity, the priest blesses the wedding couple three times before declaring that the groom and bride are engaged. The rings are positioned on the right-hand fingers of the bride and groom by the priest. Yes, it is the right hand rather than the left, as the right hand is said to symbolize virtue in the Bible. The bride and groom will place their wedding rings on the tips of their fingers before the ceremony begins. The Koumbaro then swaps the rings three times, symbolizing how the Holy Trinity’s grace has united the couple’s two lives into one. They are now formally engaged to wed before God.
Stefana (Marital Crown)
The marital crowns, or Stefana, are among the most iconic customs of Greek weddings. A ribbon strand connects these exquisite objects, crafted from flowers, leaves, or valuable metals. They represent the coming together of two people into a single couple. They exchange the bridal crowns, called Stefana, three times. This represents the couple’s dedication to God, love, and commitment to one another.
Lambathes Or Candles And The Common Cup
The joining of the hands and lighting the candles signal the start of the wedding ceremony. Each Lambathes taper candle is handed to the bride and groom. Throughout the marriage ceremony, the bride and the groom will hold the candles. The lights represent the couple’s willingness to receive Christ, who will bless them throughout this ceremony.
As a symbol of a prosperous and happy marriage, the bride and groom will also share “the common cup,” from which they will each take three drinks.
Putting Hands Together
The priest connects the bride and groom’s right hands as he prays for God to unite the couple into one spirit and body. They beg for a long, tranquil life filled with health and happiness in their prayers. To signify their union, their hands will remain clasped throughout the service.
Two readings are traditionally given during a Greek Orthodox wedding. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians will be the first one. This passage emphasizes the coming together of two people. The Gospel of St. John is read aloud in the second passage. In this passage, Jesus’ transformation of water into wine is highlighted as the bride and groom share a cup.
The Greek Dance Celebration
First, be prepared for a loud wedding celebration in Greece as they greet the happy couple. What celebration is complete without dancing? Greek wedding reception customs nearly always include dancing. The Tsamiko, Zeibekiko, and Sirtaki are traditional dances in which guests form a circle while holding hands.
The last dance of the evening is traditionally shared by the couple, as opposed to the first dance as is customary in Western Culture. During the dance, guests can throw money at the pair or pin it to their clothing.
Simply put, the Martyrika are Greek wedding witness pins. After the ceremony, the Koumbaros will distribute these small lapel buttons with a thin ribbon to the attendees. The traditional Greek wedding colors are blue, white, or pink, and the pin may also have a tiny cross in the middle. The sacrament of the wedding, which the guests had just witnessed, is symbolized by these pins. In place of the best man, the couple frequently asks their flower girls to distribute the pins.
As gifts for the wedding guests, Jordan almonds, commonly called Bomboniera or Koufeta, are wrapped together. These almonds stand for fertility, purity, and the longevity of the marriage. Typically, an odd number of almonds that cannot be separated fill the Bomboniera. Nine is a prime example of a split number. Despite being an odd number, you can split it evenly into threes.
Symbols Of Good Fortune And Different Superstitions
All day long, iron is thought to fight off evil spirits. So the groom ought to stash a bit in his pocket!
Odd numbers are thought to bring good luck. Thus, couples often invite an odd number of guests and ask an odd number of attendants to stand by them. One cannot split odd numbers!
The holy trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—is represented by the number three, which has a specific symbolic meaning.
After congratulating or complimenting the couple, spitting is customary, a practice that dates back to ancient times. Today, visitors simulate “the act” of spitting by puffing air through pursed lips. The rule of threes dictates that “spitting” three times will increase your luck.
Yuvetsi, Tiropita And Baklava
The food is one of a Greek wedding’s most significant aspects! While a wide variety of food from the Greek homeland is available to Greek Americans, some dishes always appear on a typical Greek wedding menu. Yuvetsi is a stew made with lamb or beef and orzo; tiropita is a cheese tart; and baklava is a pastry made with honey and almonds for sweetness.
Lastly, the somber atmosphere of the wedding ceremony is relaxed and replaced with grins and camera flash from our guests when the customary family photo with the priests is taken.
A Greek wedding is a lovely, customary event rich in symbolism and historical significance. The betrothal ceremony usually precedes the wedding ceremony, which is performed afterward. The rites of the wedding, which are usually performed in a Greek Orthodox church, involve exchanging rings, crowning the couple with wreaths, and sharing a cup of wine.
Following the wedding ceremony, the newlyweds frequently celebrate with a reception that features food, dancing, and ethnic music. Greek weddings are renowned for their joyful mood and the value of family and community. Family members and friends frequently perform many ceremonies and dances during a wedding, truly celebrating love and unity.
A Greek wedding is a lovely and significant occasion that respects tradition and unites family and friends in joy. A Greek wedding is likely to be a memorable and happy experience, regardless of your ethnicity or whether you admire the beauty and symbolism of this traditional rite.