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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

ROMANIAN WEDDING TRADITIONS


The wedding is the most interesting family custom of all. It is also a complex custom which has various traditional forms all over the country and combines economic, law, ritual and folkloric elements. The popular "show" is almost fabulous. The acts from the marriage foundation are ritual and ceremonial meant to bring prosperity, fecundity, happiness and social integration to the young family. In this moment the popular costume gains some specific significances and the act of the ceremony is composed from many customs: the well - wishing at the bride's gate, the dowry dance in the bride's yard and the parents forgiveness, then the wedding at the groom's house, the gifts and the bride's adorning.The musical repertoire is suitable: "the dowry dance", "the big dance", "three times around the table", "the bride's grief song", "the bride's ring dance", "and the big ring dance".
MOLDOVA:Moldavian marriage is a bouquet of traditions and culture. People sit together and are served with food and wine. Traditional dances also take place. In Moldova, people speak of "wedding parties" instead of just "weddings,” The wedding ceremony itself isn’t the focus of the festivities; it can be a small, understated event leading up to the wedding party proper, usually an all-night celebration.Wedding ceremonies today are held at "casa mare" or House of happiness. The modern ceremony includes the old wedding custom of bowing to the parents as a token of gratitude and respect. The traditional wedding party is magnificent in its arrangement, and intense from the moral ethical point of view. The singing and dancing continues until the daybreak. At dawn everyone sits down for a minute and the bride is given a child to hold in her arms. According to tradition, the bride will then be sure to have a home full of children. The young husband then leads her to the threshold of their house. But before they step over the threshold the couple is showered with grain - a sign of prosperity.A Moldovian maxim says: "The person who has failed to build a home, to raise a son, to dig a well and to plant a tree has wasted his life". That's why the Moldovian villages are so green, the houses are so beautiful and you can see wells along the streets.
MARAMURES:The wedding in Maramures has a unitary structure and as most important sequences, the asking-in-marriage, the "belief" (engagement) and the wedding. The secondary characters, but with a very important position within the ceremony are the "callers" to the wedding, the bridesmaids, the "socacita" (chief-cook), the "man with the larder", the musicians, the group of the lads and the wedding guests.Taken as a whole, the ceremony is simple. A trustful person of the groom's part is going to the bride to ask her in marriage on the groom's behalf (most of the time he gets an affirmative answer only the third time), then the girl's dowry is discussed and the date of the engagement is set. The way to the wedding and the wedding itself contain many preparations and ritual objects, each one with its own significance. A great deal of attention is paid to the details in dressing, arranging of the table and most of all, the orders and priorities. There will exist, for example, an order for entering and coming out of the church, in serving the wedding guests, etc.The rituals preceding every sequence or level represent the picturesque of the traditions. For example, on the night before the wedding (which is called "the flag evening") the "flagman ", accompanied by a group of lads and musicians goes to the groom's house with the flag. Here they start dancing a certain ritual "flag dance", with the adequate witty couplets.The clothing also deserves a very special attention. The bride will wear a white shirt, white skirt with a white apron over it. Over the shirt she will wear a woolen sleeveless sheepskin coat and a woolen thick fleecy overcoat, tied on the waist with a red belt. The groom's clothing is even simpler: hempen white shirt, the sleeveless woolen sheepskin coat, and the "large pants" (or in winter time the white woolen stretch pants). The body is tied up with a broad belt with six buckles containing the knife, the tobacco, the pipe, the moneybag and other necessary small things. As a last element, in his case he also wears clinkered boots. His only decorative objects are the hand sewn cuffs, a bag over his shoulders, and he sign for being a groom - the white artificial flowers on his chest.Emotional scenes for the relatives are the "forgiving" moments - when the bride and the groom ask for forgiveness from their parents on the account of possible former mistakes.When the groom is going for the bride, the godfather, the "flagman" and a great deal of the wedding guests accompany him. Of all the rituals met with at the wedding ceremony, the most interesting is the one of cleaning the cheeks of the groom and bride by the mother-in-law. As this is the first time she comes to her mother-in-law's house the gestures may be considered as a ritual of acceptance of the bride in the new "house" (the "house" house meaning in the mentality of the peasants in Maramures the family/relatives). After the wedding, the entering of the young woman into the new category of married women implies certain beliefs and practices, like the chopping of a wood piece by one hit with an axe (in order to give birth easily) or the spinning of the wool (in order to be a good status host).
TRANSYLVANIA:The wedding dress of the maidens was a proof that the girls knew to sew and weave, which was a very important condition for marriage. Some garments could also indicate an occupation (the long leather cloak of the shepherds, worn on the shoulders, with the fur on the outside or their hood or the “chimir”, a large belt worn by those who worked in the wood) or the social status (only married women worn kerchiefs).Some garments have a ceremonial role. They are only made on specific occasions. The bride, helped by the girls from the village, was supposed to make the groom’s shirt in a single night. The “plague shirt” also had to be worked entirely in a single night. These clothes are only worn on special moments. At the wedding the most beautiful decorated costume is worn (many times it is especially made for this occasion). In Transylvania there are places where both bride and groom wear wool clothes, no matter the season. The most characteristic elements for the wedding are the bride’s head dress, worn only on that occasion.At the funeral, the deceased is dressed in the wedding clothes, which are especially kept. The practice of weddings includes the moments when young people separate from their social groups. Additionally, there is the separation of the bride from her parents which is followed by her joining the bridegroom's family. Lastly, there is the union of the two young people and the integration of the bride into her new family. (Prior to the marriage is the betrothal which is followed by a long process of acceptance towards the prospective couple by the existing group of those who are already married.) The wedding is a performance with well-established rituals. Poetry, song, dance and ceremonial costumes all have a detailed role in the wedding ceremony. This ceremony begins when the spokesman of the bridegroom comes to the bride's home to woo her. During this time, the best men go throughout the village inviting the relative and friends to the wedding. Then, before the closed gates guarded by the bride's relatives, the bridegroom's best man tells a story. It is the story of a young emperor who gathered a great army and went hunting. While hunting, he saw a fairy and sent his warriors to look for her. Following the fairy's trail, they arrive at the bride's house. They have been told that there is a certain flower in the garden. This flower cannot bear fruit because of the unsuitable soil in which it grows. The warriors came to pick the flower and plant it in the young emperor's garden. There, the soil was known to be good and provide the nutrients enabling the flower to bear fruit. The dress and hairdressing of the bride is also important. She wears a ceremonial costume and flowers in her hair.In the western part of Transylvania, in Bihor, the bridegroom must pass a test of cleverness. He must solve a series of riddles in order to prove that he is able to be part of the married community.The entrance of the bride into the community of married women is marked by a change of her hair style, and the covering of her head with a scarf. The scarf is a symbol of the married women. This ceremony is also accompanied by a song.Just as for a medieval meal, the wedding meal provides an opportunity for singing, dancing and listening to epic hero songs. Dance forms, especially for the young people, are an essential part of the wedding, as well as the birth ceremonies. One dance, called a "hora" marks the decisive moments of the ceremonial. It is a seal of the marriage contract. The above wedding ceremonials in Romania last for three days. The final day ends with a "dance of masks."

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