Nowadays, Romanian weddings are an interesting combination of old and new, religion and tradition. When a couple decides to get married, there are lots of steps and procedures which have to be followed before this event. First of all, they should set up the date and check for the availability of the people from the city hall (for the civil wedding), the priests (for the religious one), as well as for the venue of the wedding party. After all being set, the couple has to find another married couple (in the church) to be their godparents (nași). Usually, these people are either family members or friends. Their role is very important: they serve as role models and advisers for the newlyweds and during the religious ceremony and at the party, they have to be always next to the bride and groom.
The events on the wedding day usually happen like this: on a Saturday morning, the couple goes to the city hall to get legally married (they have to say ‘yes’ and sign the papers), then the bride goes to her parents’ house, and the groom to his parents’. They start the preparations for the religious ceremony. The groom is getting dressed with the wedding gown and shaved (symbolically) by his best man and some other friends, then they go to the godparents’ house and together with them, they go to pick up the bride. Meanwhile, the bride is getting prepared by her bridesmaids. The groom, the godparents and the young men arrive at the bride’s house with pine trees which are left at the gates for luck. At her house, the guests make a round dance (hora) and after that they would put the bride on a chair and ‘break’ sweet bread above her head. Then, all the people go to the church for the ceremony.
Before entering the church, the participants would have to put money in a bucket full of water placed near the entrance.
In the church, the priest(s) performs the wedding ceremony (which usually lasts about one hour and it is performed in the Orthodox rite). During the religious ceremony, the godmother stands by the bride’s side, holding a tall candle (70-130 cm high and decorated with flowers) with the help of the bridesmaid, and the godfather stands by the groom’s side, helped by the best man with another identical candle. When the priest puts the rings on the couple’s fingers, he is helped also by the godfather, respectively godmother. The parents of the couple should sit behind them.
The bride and the groom would wear ceremonial crowns, which are associated with particular blessings made upon the couple and sets them up as the ‘king and queen’ of their newly created family. In the final part of the wedding, the priest takes the godfather by hand (with the candle), followed by the groom, the bride, the godmother with the other candle for the traditional wedding dance around the Holly Table.
When the ceremony is over, the bride and the groom are the first to get out of the church and they have to push together the bucket with their feet in order to spill the water in order to wash away all the future problems. There is an old Romanian saying: ‘All the bad things may be washed away and all the good things may come together’ (Cele rele să se spele, cele bune să se adune!). Money is collected by the young children present at the ceremony.
After this ceremony, people usually have a photo session before going to the restaurant.
The party at the restaurant normally starts at about 8 pm and lasts till dawn. There are also certain traditions to be kept. The party should start with the first dance of the newlyweds, followed by a lot of dances and hore with all the guests, accompanied by a lot of food and drinks on the tables. At around midnight, the bride is kidnapped by a group of people from the wedding and taken to another place (a landmark or to club). Then, the groom and the godfather are informed that the bride has been kidnapped, so they must pay a ransom (a few bottles of alcohol, the groom must sing a love song or to recite a poem for the bride, etc.). If the bride is kidnapped before midnight, the groom pays, if afterwards, the godfather.
After the wedding cake is served, the bride’s bouquet is caught and the party is almost finished, there is another important tradition. A popular song named ‘Say goodbye, dear bride (to your father and your mother)’ (Ia-ți mireasă ziua bună- de la tată, de la mumă) is played and, at that point, the godmother takes the veil from the bride’s head and replaces it with a head scarf. While the godmother is trying to put the scarf on the head of the bride she is supposed to refuse and ‘fight’ against it, by pulling it down three times. The gesture symbolises the transfer from a girl to a married woman who will take care of the household and future children.
After this moment, the young woman who caught the bride’s bouquet or another unmarried friend will take the bride’s place on the chair and the new wife will put her former veil on the head of the young lady. The dance begins again, but this time around the future bride to be. This is the last important moment of the wedding reception.
Before leaving the party, the guests should offer a gift to the newly married couple. In the past, people used to offer various things that the couple might need in their household (china, bed linen, blankets, etc.), whereas nowadays, people usually put some money in an envelope and hand it to the couple at the end of the party. The couple use this money to pay for the wedding, for their honeymoon or, they can save it and use it later in order to buy a car or an apartment.
The morning after the party, there is another party called ‘Ciorba de potroace’ (Giblets borsch). After partying all night, all the wedding guests need a sour borsch to fight the hangover and party again. Then, the newlyweds can go on honeymoon!
In case you attend such an important event, please, don’t forget to wish ‘Casă de piatră!’ (literally - house of stone, meaning ‘may you have a long and resistant marriage!’) for the newlyweds.
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