Wedding traditions throughout Eastern Europe often bring the glory of their past and bring it to more modern times. In the southern region, which includes countries such as Albania, Croatia and Serbia, these traditional ceremonies often meet those criteria.
– In Albania, the bringing together of a bride and a groom is generally done by the parents, a matchmaker or a liaison.
– There is a week long celebration that takes place that leads up to the actual ceremony. This celebration is also known as jav’ e nuses.
– As a sign of the engagement, the bride is given a gold coin.
– The bride-to-be is given presents, along with kufetas, or sugar covered almonds.
– A dowry is paid for by the groom’s family to pay homage to the parent’s of the bride.
– As friends, relatives and others visit the bride and the groom, they are fed buke me qiqra, which is bread made from chickpea.
– A member of the groom’s family will go to the parents of the bride and will formally ask for them to attend all the celebrations. This member often brings with them a token of the invite, which usually will consist of a cake, as well as other sweets, money, wine and blossoms.
– On the wedding day, the bride’s parents will give her a mouthful of wine, while the rest of the family showers her with cash.
– The bride’s shoes are brought by the vellam, or best man. Often these shoes are filled with candied almonds and rice.
– The vellam will also toss coins in the air for the guests to go amuck gathering up the money.
– For a Croatian wedding, generally a male is assigned to be the wedding host. His role is not only to welcome the guests, but entertainment as well. He usually will offer the guests a drink from his home made schnapps.
– Located at the entrance of the ceremony, guests have the opportunity to drop cash into a basket for the new couple.
– As a gesture of welcoming the guests, they are given a rosemary branch and are usually pinned on their right side.
– After the ceremony, the bride’s family will remove her veil and in its place they will give her a scarf to wear. After the scarf, they will then dress her with an apron. This is a symbol that their daughter is now a wife.
– Another tradition takes place after the ceremony, in which all the guests will form a circle around a well at the church. They will circle it three times which symbolizes the Holy Trinity. After which, the guests will toss apples into the well ensuring the couple’s fertility.
– At the reception, it is customary to have a money dance with the bride. The amount of time a guest has with the bride will depend on how much money they give. The dance is often done to “On the Beautiful Blue Danube,” a waltz done by Strauss and is considered a tradition with Croatian weddings and ceremonies.
– In Serbia, an engagement formally takes place at the home of the potential bride. At this time gifts are often given and the wedding plans are made.
– Serbian tradition has the groom paying for the wedding, the party and the bride’s outfit.
– In the past, it was nearly impossible for women to marry in Serbia if they did not have any sort of inheritance from her parents. This inheritance can come in any form and not just cash. The bride-to-be that has an inheritance is known as a miraz.
– Pearls worn by a bride were once considered bad luck as the pearl drops symbolized tear drops.
– To ward off evil spirits and curses that may have been placed on areas of the ground, it was often that a bride would go from her house to the groom’s via horse or carriage, thus not allowing her to walk the ground and potentially step on a cursed spot.
– A Serbian bride must wear a veil on her wedding day. The veil serves as a protector from evil eyes that may look upon her.
– Often the godparents serve as the best man and maid or matron of honor.
– Traditionally, the wedding party takes place at the groom’s home.
– The sort of food that is offered will depend on the family’s wealth. Often this includes meats and cheese pies. Plum brandy, which is known as Sljivovica, is also served.
– Serbian ceremonies usually do not include a wedding cake.