Date : April 30, 2015
Traditionally, a typical wedding in Ukraine includes a fun and vibrant selection of folk music, dancing, singing and visual art. It may include rituals that date back to a pre-Christian era, but most of the traditional marriages have a decidedly Christian orientation.
Ivan Kupala Day is a long time traditional day where people from the village go out into the forests searching for the paporot flower. This flower is said to have magical powers and it is difficult to find. It is also said that to posses it will bring great wealth, so obviously it is heartily sought after.
The first individuals to enter the forest are the women who are unmarried, then to be followed by the young men. If a couple comes out of the forest with a Ukrainian wreath being worn by the young man, that means that they have decided to become engaged to be married.
The tradition of marriage in Ukraine states that the groom-to-be must appear at the home of the parents of the bride and offer a ransom. The bridesmaids “protect” the bride from the possibility of being “stolen” with a ransom first being offered.
The first ransom that is offered is usually something of value such as money or jewellery for the bride. Then the parents send out either a man or a woman who is dressed up like the bride, and whose face is covered by a veil, so in this way the face in unrecognized. Then the groom sees that this is not his bride, so he then calls for his true love to come out, and at that point the family of the bride will ask for a larger ransom. Then negotiations ensue, and if they are worked out, the family will offer the bride to the groom.
If, however, the parents of the bride meet the groom at the door with only a pumpkin, it simply signifies that the offer was not accepted by the family or the bride. So the pumpkin gives the man something for him to carry off, so at least he doesn’t leave empty-handed for this occasion.
Then there is the blessing that is ritually done by the parents of the bride and groom. It will take place a short time after the actual wedding ceremonies themselves. Once the groom arrives at the house of the bride, and he has paid the ransom for the bride, the bride and bridegroom will perform this ritual together in sight of their own parents. The ritual is designed to bring both of these “children” into adulthood where they ask forgiveness for things they might have done in their past and they also ask for blessings from their parents and grandparents.
These rituals and blessings are important, as they are done in the presence of parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and other relatives. These procedures give community credibility to the marriages, who then support the young couple materially and emotionally at a time when their relationship could be most vulnerable.