Sep 28, 2007

Russian Wedding Traditions

A traditional Russian Wedding lasts for at least two days and some wedding last as long as a week. Throughout the celebration there is dancing, singing, extended toasts and a great deal of food and beverages. The Best Man and Maid of Honor are called witnesses, "svideteli" in Russian. The ceremony and the ring exchanges take place on the first day of the Wedding and on this special day many other events take place. Throughout the years, Russian Weddings have adopted many western cultures, including Bridesmaids and Flower girls.

Some traditional Russian Wedding Rituals include:

Paying the Ransom-Once the groom arrives at the bride's home, he must pay a ransom for the Bride, a term in Russian known as "vykup nevesty". The entire is played out in a comical fashion and everyone is entertained.
Traditional Ceremony-In the next step, the Bride and Groom have and optional traditional ceremony in a church or a synagogue, depending on the couple's religion. In Russian this is called the "venchanie". Churches or synagogues do not have official government status and a civil ceremony must also be held.

Civil ceremony-Following the traditional ceremony, the couple must have a civil ceremony called "rospis v zagse". This ceremony takes place at the department of public services, formally known as ZAGS. At ZAGS the couple is greeted by family members with bread and salt. It is offered to the newlyweds by both parents as a symbol of health, prosperity and long life. Both bride and groom must take a bite of the bread and the one that takes the largest bite will be the head of the family! The ceremony ranges from 15 to 30 minutes and during this time the rings are exchanged and the couple is pronounced Husband and Wife.

Tour of the city-After the official part, it is customary for the bride and groom, and some of their close friends and relatives to go on a tour of the historic sites of the city, taking pictures and drinking champagne. In Moscow, popular stops include the Red Square, Grave of the Unknown Soldier and Sparrow Hills near Moscow State University. Usually by the end of the tour many guests are already singing and dancing.

Reception-After touring the city for several hours, the couple meets guests for the reception.
-The first toast is made to the newlyweds and after the first shot, the guest begin to shout "Gorko, Gorko, Gorko..." "Gorko" means "bitter" and the guests are referring to the bitter wine. At this point the couple must kiss for a long time to take out the bitter taste of the wine. By Russian tradition everyone throws their champagne glasses on the floor and it is considered a good luck if the glasses break when they hit the ground.
-The second toast is made to the parents.
-The new couple dances the first dance of the night.
-The groom should constantly keep his eyes on the bride. If the bride gets out of the groom’s sight, she could be stolen by his friends and the groom will have to pay the ransom. (again)
-As the night continues the guests dance, sing, play games, and make toasts.
-For the next several days, the family continues to eat, drink, and celebrate.

More Wedding Traditions

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