Lithuanian Wedding Customs and Traditions
Agree, the wedding is one of the most beautiful holidays in life. Although today we are preparing for this day and celebrating it in the same way as the whole of Europe, however, we, Lithuanians, have also the old Lithuanian wedding customs and traditions. Maybe you will find something useful, interesting, or at least will smile reading my blog about those traditions.
The wedding is the proof of eternal love and the desire to spend a lifetime together. The desire for such proof of love and the creation of a family has not diminished even nowadays. However, many couples now get married because of the making some kind of agreement, seeking for some kind of benefit to themselves. And the newlyweds' oath to God no longer seems to be so necessary, because, rarely who sincerely still believes that marriage can last forever.
All that what is related to the creation of the family was holy and eternal for our ancestors. Perhaps, therefore, they have maintained great family relationships for many years. They firmly and confidently lived next to each other the whole life.
Traditions of the wedding - Photo credit: pixabay.com
Divorce was not acceptable, and an oath to God was an unbreakable vow. Perhaps because of this, people did not search for a reason to escape from the spouse but did everything to keep love and great relationships as long as possible. It was precisely for these reasons that our ancestors were very happy people, more than people nowadays are - surrounded by love, harmony, and sustainability in relationships.
In those times, special significance was also given to the wedding celebration, for all the rituals required. Much and sincere attention was paid to this occasion, and all preparation for the wedding celebration was done especially careful.
All the people in the countryside participated in the wedding, and there were a lot of customs and rituals of the wedding performed. Of course, vow to God was very important. Especially because it has been honestly followed.
It is also understandable that the wedding has a special symbolic meaning.
In Lithuanian culture, starting a family was not just the couple’s personal responsibility. Weddings were always community affairs joining not only two people, but two families. Thus, it was the duty of the two families and other villagers to make the occasion as festive and grand as possible. It is not surprising then that wedding festivities were rich in collective creativity and expression.
Old Wedding Customs and Traditions
Today's wedding is held in the late spring or summer, and in the old days, Lithuanians were more likely to marry in autumn - in late October or early November. At first glance, this custom may seem strange and completely illogical: after all, it's cold, wet, dark, and sad time. On the other hand, there is nothing strange, as the ancient Lithuanians understood the wedding just like a funeral. After marriage, the girl loses her old life: status, surnames, and parents' home. After the wedding, the girl becomes another - an adult woman who is officially admitted to the mature women's community.
In the past, a true Lithuanian wedding was divided into some mandatory parts.
Ethnographic wedding ceremony - Photo credit: etnovestuves.lt
The first part was matchmaking, which consisted of six parts. These are an acquaintance, matchmaking, marriage contract, engagement, guests' invitation to the wedding. The most important was matchmaking. Everything started with it.
In the past, the groom together with the matchmaker visited the future bridge in her home. The young girl along with her parents met the guests at the table. The matchmaker, going to a girlfriend, always took a bottle of alcohol, which was needed for the ritual. The matchmaker put a white napkin on the table, and in this honorable place, he built a bottle of drink decorated with Rue plants. The bottle was supposed to be opened by the young girl herself. It's like a sign of agreement.
Acquaintance and matchmaking were usually carried out twenty days before the wedding.
Lithuanian Wedding Customs and Traditions - Photo credit: etnovestuves.lt
--Hen party and bachelor party--
After matchmaking and engagement, it was especially important to have a hen party and bachelor party.
The hen party was important for the bride. The friends of the bride and women of great importance and close to the bride gathered at this party. They sang songs, told the stories of matchmaking, wedding, and hen parties, they laughed and cheered together. Married women gave plenty of tips on how to maintain the house and keep a good relationship with husband.
At the time of hen party, the women wicker wreaths of the rue plants. The bride wore the best wreath during the wedding. Also, various games were played, solved the riddles. The future bridesmaids, all the participants of the party had their own baked cakes.
The bachelor party was arranged for men to have fun and for the bridegroom to celebrating the ending freedom. Because after the marriage, family affairs and domestic life change the freedom.
Traditional hen party in Lithuania - Photo credit: romuva.lt
--Arrival to the bride--
This custom was carried out just before the wedding when it was necessary to take a bride from home and go to the marriage ceremony. Usually, the bridegroom arrived with a groomsman. Unfortunately, the bridegroom did not get the bride easily. First of all, the recognition of the bride took place, when the stranger young girls pretended to be a bride. The bridegroom had to understand which is his future wife.
Later, the bridesmaids and the groomsmen were paired up. When the bridegroom found the bride, they all left home. Here, farewell, which had great significance for the bride and the groom's loved ones, was very important. The parents blessed them, cross them, and gave to kiss a home-guarding cross. Also, the bride had to walk around the fireplace or the table three times to always be successful, that her life would be coherent and happy. The dowry was taken with the bride as it was an important part of the wedding.
--The wedding feast--
After the marriage ceremony in the church, the newlyweds at home were met by guests, and the wedding feast started.
The bride and groom are given some work to do. For example, sometimes they are sawing a log. There they show how well they function together. Everything is done under supervision of a matchmaker or a best man.
There were such rituals as - the redemption of the table, newlyweds dances, accompanying of newlyweds to the bedroom, and waking up in the morning. All these rituals were held one after the other. During the rituals, the bridegroom gave the gifts to the parents of the bride and otherwise. After celebrating, the young people were accompanied to the bed. This part of the ritual is interesting because the girl's mother next to the bed put a fresh bread, which symbolized a beautiful and bright life.
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--Next wedding day--
One of the most important ceremonies that should not be forgotten when it comes to the old Lithuanian wedding is the ceremony of the death sentence for a matchmaker by hanging.
The hanging up of the matchmaker is a performance during which the matchmaker is accused of lying about the wealth of the bride and thefts. In the first morning of the wedding, a matchmaker with the musicians went to the homes of relatives and neighbors who have participated in the wedding. There he tried to steal their things.
After the death verdict is issued, the matchmaker publishes his will, in which he distributed his belongings to the wedding's guests, and for the last time, he asked for mercy. Finally, the matchmaker was saved by the bride, forgiving his sins and wrapping his shoulder with a tape. Instead, the effigy of matchmaker was hanged up.
After all these ceremonies, the wedding was over. At the end of the celebration, the new couple gave warmly farewell to all their guests. They personally gave a little gift to each guest. The young people started their life in a man's home, where they began to create a new life as a married couple.
The wedding celebration in Lithuania - Photo credit: ozy.com
Wedding Traditions Nowadays
Nowadays, most couples want an unusual and original wedding, and old customs are rarely observed.
Today, the couples celebrate their wedding in a variety of ways. The time when the newlyweds were congratulated by the entire village and feasted a few days seems has gone a long time ago. Songs, dances, magic rituals were very modified and not used anymore by the younger generation.
It was customary that the bride to the altar goes with the groom and meet the destiny. Now many brides are choosing western traditions when their dad accompanies the bride.
Carry a bride on the hands across the bridge is also a tradition that cannot claim to be the old custom. It appeared not so long ago - in the Soviet era. It is believed that this tradition is more contemporary than old. The idea behind this tradition is to try to endure the groom's patience by requiring to carry on his bridge on the hands via the longest bridge.
Over the past decade, most of the most beautiful bridges in Lithuania and the world are full of hanging locks which are left by newlyweds. It is also not our tradition; it came from somewhere to us.
After the marriage ceremony, the young people are met at the home door with the bread and the salt proposed by their parents. This tradition is still alive, but the alcohol distorted this unique custom. Often we see that besides the bread and salt, symbolizing the welfare of the family, a glass of vodka also is added. It is nothing less than the legacy of the Soviet era when the vodka was used for many holidays. In the past, farewell to youth and the transition to married life was perceived as a very sacred and responsible process, so there was no way to talk about young people drinking alcohol.
The romantic engagement on the seafront at the sunset time is a custom that came from the United States.
Also, the tradition to have four things for the bride that is going to the altar is a new tradition: something new, something old, something blue, and something borrowed.
and a silver sixpence in her shoe.
This English poem appeared in Victorian times, and the bride adheres to these rules so far. Something old should be the garter of a happily married woman so that together with it the bride would receive some luck. Something new symbolizes the bright and happy future of the couple. Something borrowed should be a valuable bride's family item. It symbolizes family welfare. True, spells will work only if the item is returned after the wedding.
Something blue is the legacy of an ancient tradition since in the old days the bride used to bind the blue ribbon into her hair - the symbol of fidelity. The silver six-pound coin had to ensure that the couple will not suffer in poverty. Nowadays, the bride is hiding a simple coin because it is difficult to get a silver coin.
Customs and rutuals of the wedding - Photo credit: kauno.diena.lt
The Most Important Wedding Symbols And Their Meanings
The semantics of customs, the cultural heritage is hiding in the symbols, the various actions, and verbal formulas used. The rituals of the same nation for each historical period, expressed by the same symbolic signs, interpret their meaning in their own way. This is determined by the time-varying consciousness of people and the concept of values.
Newlyweds rings - wedding rings were one of the most important wedding symbols. The symbolic meaning of these rings reaches immemorial times. It symbolizes fidelity, the creation of a new family, and the determination to go along the path of life together. In most cases, wedding rings were golden because it is a long-lasting metal symbolizing eternity.
Rings symbolism at the wedding - Photo credit: iday.lt
The white dress of a bride was also a necessary attribute of the wedding. She also had a profound symbolic meaning. The white dress symbolized pureness, innocence, spirituality.
The rue wretch is a very important part of the bridal wear. Every bride, wearing a veil had to attach a wretch of fresh rue plants to it. Rue plant was especially valued for its deep symbolic meaning and later became a wedding flower. It was believed that the wretch, wearing in a wedding, symbolizes the long life, innocence, and strength of the bride. There was a conviction that a girl who has an unmarried baby has no right to decorate her veil with the wreath of rue plants.
Black rye bread, (in today's customs, more often it is a slice of bread) used to meet the newly married couple at the home's door, is an expression of friendship and a happy life wishing. Salt, given to the bread, is a symbol of eternity in the folk consciousness.
The symbolism of wedding - Photo credit: myday.lt
The fire in the consciousness of the people is a symbol of light and goodness of life, and it is a means of destroying the evil. The parents of newlyweds bring the fire to them as a symbol of family fireplace
On The Final Note
The unique marriage traditions of each nation, are shaped by many historical, cultural, and marital contexts. But at the same time, it is like alive changing body, so do not be surprised to realize that about the old Lithuanian wedding traditions I do not really know everything.
In modern weddings - mostly traditions are taken of the West: the removal of a garter, the accompaniment of the bride to the altar by father. All these traditions are also beautiful, but maybe we should also take advantage of our ancient customs, refurbishing them somewhat? It would be a really original wedding.
Wedding traditions nowadays - Photo credit: blog.studioblitz.ro
These traditions and customs have survived because they promise to attract happiness and success. The wedding is a special time in a couple's life when they want to believe in a promise that the future will be the kind they dream of. In addition, traditions, customs, and rituals give the wedding more meaning, personalism.
Add in the traditions of centuries on your celebration and know that formerly generations used the same rituals for their wedding is something magical. These traditions are a thread linking us to the past. It's like a gift to us from the past. Meeting these traditions will really enliven our wedding, make it more meaningful.
Lithuania is an old country with wedding traditions that stretch back hundreds of years. Over the centuries weddings traditions and customs in Lithuania have evolved very slowly, with one thing remaining constant: the overriding importance of family. Many of the traditions practiced today have d
eep roots that are easily traced to customs and traditions from long ago.
The way we celebrate our wedding is everyone's personal affair, but let's not forget completely our traditions and values.
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