The revival of a Cypriot wedding | Part II
On a previous post I talked about the summary of the preparations of the groom and bride during a traditional Cypriot wedding. Prior to the ceremony, the two of them are separately getting ready and celebrated by their families and friends. Religion is strong in small countries as such, and is usually one and the same with culture and tradition when it comes to this type of events.
Note: All the pictures are low quality, unedited and given by our guests. All the customs shown in the pictures and videos below are indicative.
Handmade details made by the bride with love
The parents of the bride will give her away to the groom in front of the church and they then walk up the aisle together.
The symbolism of the wedding ceremony:
The Koumparos and Koumpara (best man and maid of honour) play a vital role in the ceremony. They place the stefana (ceremonial headband) on the couple’s heads symbolising God’s blessings. A ribbon binds the two crowns, representing the lasting union is to be kept intact for a lifetime. The koumparoi exchange the rings three times and swap the stefana three times, before they place them on the couple’s heads. This is a demonstration of the spiritual bonding between them all. The shape of the rings and stefana symbolizes eternity and exchanging them shows one’s dependence on one another, and the love and commitment they will share from now onwards. During the ceremony the priest gives the couple Prosforo (homemade ceremonial bread) to eat and Koumandaria (red traditional Cypriot wine) to drink, symbolising the wedding at Cana in Galilee.
The Isaiah Dance:
The couple then perform the Dance of Isaiah, the priest leading them three times around the table that holds the Gospel and the Cross. The koumpari walk behind the couple, holding the stefana in place. The circle symbolizes fulfilment. The priest blesses the couple, removes the stefana and asks God to grant them a long, happy life together: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” No one should try to split apart this two people. When the priest reads the primary of the wedding blessings, he joins their right hands. They remain united during the rest of the ceremony showing the eternity of this union. From that moment on they are in harmony of soul and body.
The single glass of wine:
The priest then blesses the stefana and reads the Gospel of Wedding in Cana, pours wine into a single glass and offers the couple to take three sips each. The couple drinking from a single glass symbolises the shared life and experiences they commit to live together. Finally, the priest separates the couple’s joined hands, showing them that only God can separate them from one another.
The bride and groom are now officially married!
The custom of the stronger:
There is a line in the wedding missal that calls the husband to love his wife as himself and the wife to respect her husband. “I de gini na fovate ton andra” is humorously perceived as “the woman shall fear her husband”. At that point, the newlyweds try to step on each other’s feet. The one who hits the other’s foot first is considered to have the upper hand in their marriage.
As they leave the church, the newlywed couple offer their guests koufetta (white sugared almonds). The egg shape of the koufetta represents fertility and the new life that begins with marriage, their firm texture symbolising the endurance of an everlasting marriage, and the white sugar coating representing purity and the sweetness of future life. The almonds are offered in an indivisible, odd number, to symbolise the indivisibility of the new union. Single girls receive almonds with a red ribbon which they then place under their pillows for three days to induce dreams of the men they will each marry.
Rice and rose petals toss:
Once the couple exits the church, the guests await with a handful of rice and rose petals that they throw to the married couple. Given that rice is linked to fertility, the couple is wished for wealth and prosperity.
The bouquet symbolises youth and fertility. The girl who catches the bouquet is expected to be the next to marry. In a similar custom, the groom makes his way underneath the bride’s skirt and, using his teeth, removes the ceremonial garter. All the single men then gather at a distance as the groom, with his back to them, tosses the garter in their direction. The man who catches the garter is, by tradition, the next one to marry.
The night continuous with a cocktail party, dinner and after party till early morning hours. And they lived happily ever after!