Traditions are often times practiced in many parts of the world without completely understanding the meaning behind them. They are often incorporated into one’s wedding ceremonies just because. But as beautiful as they are we feel it is very important to explore some of the most amazing traditions around the world, and bring them to light.
If you have never heard about such unusual words as “Rushnuk,” “Caravaj,” “Poroduchannya,” or “Choboty,” no need to fret, you do not need to start learning a new language. You will only need to know just a few words to comprehend the basic traditional wedding customs in a Slavonic country like Ukraine.
If your plans are to marry a Ukrainian woman or man, there are some common customs from many countries and traditions you may want to get familiar with. For instance, wedding rite of greeting newlyweds with the wedding loaf Caravaj. Caravaj is a common Slavonic name of round bread. This ritual includes several solemn moments: meeting of newlyweds with the loaf Caravaj and parental blessing. Blessing of the newlyweds is a mandatory custom for an Orthodox marriage ceremony as well as in many other countries and cultures. This is still a tradition that is alive in contemporary wedding ceremonies that can be added as a key element in today’s customary weddings. Your something new and something old. Usually, Ukrainian marriage ceremonies start with the following rite. The parents and guests greet the newlyweds’ tuple from the registry office. Newlyweds stand in front of their parents on a towel called Rushnuk.
Until the 20th century, it was a tradition in the Ukraine that all unmarried girls started embroidering their Rushnuku before the wedding ceremony a few years ahead. As the newlyweds stand in front of their parents, they solemnly bow three times to the parents, and their parents bless them with the wedding loaf, Caravaj. Once this is completed, the couple breaks off a piece from the loaf and feed it to each other. Whoever takes a bigger bite will dominate in the family. In the recent years, most Ukrainians still save this tradition of blessing by their parents and continue using Rushnuk in the wedding ceremonies.
On the contrary, another famous custom of covering the bride with a handkerchief is not so popular in contemporary wedding trends. The groom’s mother removes the bridal veil and covers the bride’s head with a beautiful handkerchief, so the bride is no longer considered a girl but a wife. Then, all unmarried girls start the ritual of dancing in a circle around the bride, and she alternately invites each of the bridesmaids to her, covering their heads with her bridal veil. It is at this time that the sounds of a Ukrainian sad folk song begin to play. Once completed, all the girls gather around to catch the bridal bouquet. A very popular custom in Ukraine that is also popular all over the world and still remains trendy. The process involves the bride turning her back to her unmarried girlfriends and throwing a bouquet of flowers to them. It is believed that whoever catches the bouquet will be the next who will marry.
In Ukraine, Poroduchannya is a very popular and important ancient tradition of uniting and combining two families: both parents and newlyweds. The rite symbolizes the union of two families through the ritual words. Usually, this ceremony is very cheerful, with the applauses of the guests.
One tradition that is impossible to skip, which is a very funny wedding rite is Choboty. It is one of the most picturesque Ukrainian wedding rites. Choboty is a Ukrainian term for boots. The protagonists in this custom are mother-in-law and groom. In a playful ritual form the son-in-law presents boots to his mother-in-law for presenting him her daughter in return. Rite Choboty is one of the most famous ceremonies in Ukraine and in certain regions of the country it is very strongly associated with the notion of Ukrainian wedding.
And for the last but not least, both a very trendy and at the same time an ancient custom is presenting of the family hearth. The essence of this ritual is that parents convey the warmth of their heart to their children. By the end of the evening, the parents of each family light the candle from each family and that of the newlyweds, then pronouncing a blessing. In this ceremony, all guests are standing in a circle, solemnly holding the lit candles. The light is turned off in the room and the couple is in the middle of the circle with one candle that is not lit yet. All the assembled guests alternately pronounce their wedding wishes, and then all pick up their candles. Parents come to the newlyweds for pronouncing ritual words; light from their parental candles, the newlyweds’ candles, utter parental instruction and this is followed by a ritual dance of parents and newlyweds. After the dance, the guests do not extinguish their candles but place them on their tables and sit down. This makes the atmosphere of the wedding more beautiful and romantic.
Summarizing, in the recent years we can observe the main trend feature of contemporary wedding ceremonies is the revival of the national Ukrainian traditions that were popular and mandatory before Soviet Union times in Ukraine.