Continued from page 1
The Common Cup
The crowning is followed by a reading of Gospel, which tells of marriage of Cana at Galilee. It was at this wedding that Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine, which was then given to married couple. Wine is given to couple and they each drink from it three times.
The Ceremonial Walk
The priest leads couple, who are still wearing their stefana, three times around altar on their first steps as a married couple. The Koumbaro follows close behind couple holding stefana place. At this point couple (and anyone standing nearby) is usually showered with rice, which was earlier handed out to wedding guests. The priest will often make use of bible he is holding to give himself some protection!
The Removal of Crowns
When Ceremonial Walk has ended, priest blesses couple, crowns are removed and he then separates their previously joined hands with bible, reminding them that only God can break union which they have just entered into.
Unfortunately, a lot of information available on Greek Orthodox wedding traditions is a little outdated and contains generalisations that give impression that certain traditions are followed by everyone who gets married. Some of these traditions are set out below.
- The baking of bread and cakes containing coins.
- Rolling a baby on marital bed to encourage fertility.
- The throwing of money onto marital bed.
- The pinning of money onto bride (and sometimes also groom) at wedding reception.
Although these rituals are seen as traditional, fewer and fewer young people marrying today are following them, because they are seen as old-fashioned. Many people do not wish to put their guests through ordeal of other people being able to see how much money they pin on bride, for example. Although money is still a very common, as well as practical, wedding present it is often given to couple before wedding day or to a third person at wedding reception, for safe-keeping. Greeks living in more remote parts of Greece and abroad, who will naturally feel more strongly about doing things traditional way, are more likely to follow these traditions than those living in Athens, for example. Like weddings in many places, Greek weddings are changing. At time of writing, there is a growing fashion to go and get married on an island and I recently heard someone say that he was looking into getting married in a ski resort. He was wisely advised by a friend: “You had better first ask priest if he wants to perform a marriage up a mountain”!
Emmanuel Mendonca is the webmaster and publisher of Athens Room at www.athensroom.com - a free service for finding and advertising property for rent in Athens, with a wealth of information about visiting, living and working in Greece.