Hi Trudi! Greetings Everyone! Hope things are fine with you. All Russian men are waiting for Saturday to come with bated breath. The matter is that the 23rd of February is a national holiday in Russia. It is called Defender of Motherland’s Day. On this day women give cards and small (or big) presents to their fathers, husbands, sons, grandfathers etc. Talking about presents, Trudi, do you know what you will give to your grandmother for her birthday yet? People of her age need to feel loved and needed. What about a photo of you, your daughter and your husband smiling happily at her from a nice photo frame? Or maybe a nice cushion? Or a picture of a place which is important to both you and your grandmother accompanied by a card with the words of love and care?
Now’s the time for me to tell you about the way a typical Russian wedding is organised.
In accordance with an old Russian tradition, on the wedding day the bride is supposed to wait for the groom at her parents’ house. While the bride is having her hair and make-up done at her parents’ house, the groom and his friends decorate their cars with flowers and ribbons, the groom’s car must be the most lavishly decorated one. When the groom and his entourage arrive by the door of the bride’s parents’ house, they announce their presence by sounding the horns of their cars. They are met by the bride’s girl-friends. It is the beginning of a wedding tradition which is called Redemption. During the redemption the groom is expected to demonstrate his intelligence and other skills and his friends must help him answer tricky questions and perform various tasks.
The redemption can be described as an act of exchanging the groom’s skills for the bride. It is a trial the purpose of which is to see whether the groom is good enough for the bride :) The questions and tasks are not at all difficult and even if the groom and his friends fail to do a task properly, they can make up for it with some money which they give to the bride’s friends. The bride’s friends task is to get as much money as possible :) Originally this tradition was used to raise some money for the newly married couple; now it is done to pay respect for old traditions. "Redemption" is carried on in a light-hearted manner with lots of jokes until the groom finally reaches the front door of the house (or flat) where his wife-to-be has been waiting for him.
Then the groom gives the bride her wedding bouquet. Inside the flat there will be a table with champagne and snacks for everybody as another Russian tradition says that a daughter should be given to her future husband from behind a table with food. After this, everybody gets into the cars and follows to the church (or registry office).
After the service is finished, the newlyweds need to cross seven bridges. It is considered to bring happiness for many years ahead. All modern couples just drive across seven bridges while to do it properly the groom must carry his wife in his arms! I wonder whether my Alexander will be able to do it with his broken wrist :/
A few superstitions: it is bad luck to get married in May or in a leap-year. How crazy am I to be going to get married in May and in a leap-year at the same time!? Rain on the wedding day is a good omen. Traditionally, the wedding season in Russia is autumn. In autumn the harvest was finished and peasants didn’t have to work very hard until next spring, so people got married in autumn.
After the bridges have been crossed and photos have been taken the newlyweds are going to the restaurant where they will be met by their parents, friends and other guests. Now the bride and the groom need to take a bite of the bread offered to them by the groom’s mother. The one who takes a bigger bite will be the head of the family. Or at least this is what another Russian custom says.
Then a normal wedding reception follows with music, dances, drinks, food and speeches. After the reception, the groom and the bride go home and it is important that the groom carries the bride across the threshold in his arms (yes, again!). And then they’ll live happily ever after….
…until next day. The second day of the wedding is also celebrated but, of course, it is a rather quiet event compared to the first day. Some people even chose not to have one all.
Before I leave you today, have a look at the photo of some of the members of my extended family. They are my Granny, Grandfather, my uncle’s wife and my two little cousins, Masha and Anya. It was my Granny who suggested that Alex and I get married in a church, she is very religious and she has got such a big heart :)
James, I didn’t say I didn’t like the idea of throwing the bouquet. I meant throwing another thing.
And the last thing for today, have you noticed that the wedding rings in the first photo are on the fingers of the right, rather than left, hands? In many Orthodox countries (including Russia) weddings rings are worn on the ring finger of the right hand.
It’s a photo of St. Michael Cathedral where Alex and I will be married. It was rebuilt a year ago after it had been destroyed completely by communists in 1937. There are two such churches in Russia, the first one is in St. Petersburg.
Hope your week is going smoothly,
With best wishes,
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