How has the traditional Ukrainian wedding modernized in modern Ukraine?
According to ancient traditions, Ukrainian weddings consisted of four mandatory stages and were considered to be perhaps the most complicated ritual. Find out how traditional values and customs have been transformed in the present and whether Ukrainians have preserved the sacredness of the marriage process
Ukrainian weddings have long been considered one of the most colorful and vibrant ceremonies, but also one of the most complex. Not only the wedding ceremony itself played an important role, but also the preparatory stages, clothing, food, and other traditions. At the same time, modern trends followed by the younger generation of Ukrainians have brought about dramatic changes in wedding celebrations. Read on to find out how the ancient traditions of the sacred wedding ceremony have been modernized in Ukrainian culture today.
Read more about Ukrainian cuisine, its features and popular dishes in our previous article "How Ukraine tastes".
What were the stages of a traditional Ukrainian wedding in the old days?
Usually, a wedding ceremony consisted of four mandatory stages: matchmaking, engagement, bachelorette party, and the wedding celebration itself.
First, the boy, together with his father, elders, godfathers, and friends, would go to the matchmaking to the girl he wanted to marry. And if the girl agreed, the future bride and groom entered into a marriage agreement. It should be noted that unlike other Slavic peoples, in Ukraine a girl had the right to refuse a guy.
After the matchmaking, it was customary to organize so-called "look-arounds," when the boy's family would first "evaluate" the bride, and then the girl's parents would come to see the groom's household.
Engagement was considered the first rite before the upcoming wedding, because after it, young people could not refuse marriage. Thus, after the marriage agreement was concluded, both families (of the boy and the girl) organized a big celebration in honor of the couple. According to custom, the celebration took place in the bride's house, where large tables were set up with towels that the bride had to embroider. It is believed that this ritual served as proof that the future wife is a real hostess and guardian of the family.
Today, as a rule, a guy does not ask the girl's parents for consent to marry her, but in some regions of Ukraine a similar tradition has survived. However, as a rule, matchmaking, viewing and engagement are celebrated on the same day.
A bachelorette party
Traditionally, a bachelorette party was organized on the eve of the wedding as a symbol of farewell to girlhood. It was believed that the rituals performed separated the bride from the unmarried youth and the family whose home she was saying goodbye to.
The bridesmaids braided the girl's hair, put a wreath and a linen shirt on her. Each stage of the hen party was accompanied by special rituals and songs.
Today, in many countries of the world, and in Ukraine in particular, the tradition of hen parties is preserved, but the celebration, although it implies "farewell to girlhood," looks quite different. It is no longer a sad rite of passage, but rather a loud and cheerful celebration that marks a new stage of life.
The wedding ceremony began with invitations, when a girl, accompanied by her friends, visited each house and invited her neighbors to the wedding celebration. The wedding itself was also divided into several stages, including dressing the bride and groom, bride price, wedding, fun, covering the bride, and wedding ceremonies that could last for a month after the wedding day.
In different regions of the country, these stages and rituals had different unique features, and in some villages, the wedding celebration could last for 5-7 days.
Today, it is customary to receive a wedding invitation from the couple, and the invitation itself can look like anything (souvenirs, an envelope with a letter with details of the wedding ceremony and the wedding dress code, etc.)
A modern wedding usually lasts from 1 to 3 days. If the couple does not want to celebrate their marriage loudly, they simply sign a marriage license together at the registry office and have a family dinner with their loved ones. Other couples get married and have a loud celebration with an offsite ceremony. And some people divide the celebration into 3 days, signing only with parents or witnesses on the first day, organizing an official ceremony on the second and amendments on the 3rd day of the wedding.
At the same time, few people know that the modern honeymoon of newlyweds also comes from an ancient tradition when the newly formed family was given a barrel of honey, which they treated their guests to for a month.
The largest number of ancient wedding traditions today are preserved in the western regions of Ukraine. As a rule, in Zakarpattia, Galicia, and Bukovyna, there are still loud weddings with a large number of guests and ceremonies. However, for the most part, Ukrainian traditions have not disappeared, but have found a new embodiment in modern times, adapting to the modern rhythm and lifestyle of society. And this is proved by incredible love stories that unite the hearts of Ukrainians even at the front.
And we'll tell you a secret: the best way to get to know the culture and traditions of Ukrainians is to travel around Ukraine. So, if you want to relax your body and soul in a special atmosphere, and most importantly, learn more about Ukraine and its unique history, choose one of the more than 200 safe tours of Ukraine on the Visit Ukraine website, or contact the hotline and create your own unique tour with our manager, which will cover all the places that are important to you and take into account the smallest wishes, preferences and needs.
We remind you! Courage and faith in serving the country help the Ukrainian military continue to defend the country through difficulties and pain. Read the amazing stories of the soldiers whose determination and perseverance bring them back to service even after severe trials and severe injuries in our previous article.
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