(This is about Armenian wedding and its traditions.)
Armenia is an ancient country with grand history and is known for its people’s faithful commitment to certain traditions and customs. For example, wedding ceremony is the most joyous, and at the same time, very formal occasion among Armenians.
Wedding ceremony is full of strictly preserved and long-standing traditions. In ancient times “seven days and seven nights” celebration was usual but currently it is outmoded. Armenian wedding is a very big but also complex ceremony as it is supposed to include betrothal, engagement and wedding itself.
Let us introduce you to the ceremony and its unique traditions in more detail here.
Armenian Wedding Tradition 1) Groom’s side asks for bride’s hand
Traditionally, the groom must ask the bride’s family for her hand.
The groom with his parents, brothers, sisters sometimes also with grandparents and the closest friends is invited to dinner at the bride’s home. During the dinner, the groom family’s eldest member asks for the bride’s hand.
If the bride’s family elders’ answer is “yes”, people of both families start drinking tea to celebrate the decision.
The thing that differs the engagement process from the main wedding ceremony is that the latter includes religious ceremony where there is the presence of a priest blessing the couple and of course, their engagement rings.
Armenian Wedding Tradition 2) Wedding day at the bride’s and the groom’s homes
On the wedding day, all the participating people are commonly divided into 2 wedding groups: one at the bride’s home and the other one in groom’s home.
There is a traditional music band, sazandar, playing in groom’s home. The members start playing and singing when the main man of this day arrives and then everyone starts dancing. Red and green ribbons are generally pinned on the guests’ clothes.
On one hand, regarding the bride’s parents’ home, it is decorated beautifully; different desserts and food are put on the tables. And, before the ceremony begins, the bride’s brother places money in her shoe wishing her good luck and put the shoes on her feet.
Once get married, crossed
There is another funny shoe tradition actually, that is writing the names of the bride’s single female friends on the bottom side of her shoe wishing them to get married as well. But, as soon as they get married, the bride crosses off their names from the list.
Armenian Wedding Tradition 3) Traditional God family role
There is so-called “God family” acting as witnesses in an Armenian wedding ceremony.
Traditionally, they are the closest married and exemplary couple known by the groom and the bride. During the wedding ceremony, the God parents act as the witnesses of the wedding.
As another role of God parents in Armenian wedding ceremony, they also bring the most expensive present for the couple and pledge to accept responsibility for them.
Armenian Wedding Tradition 4) About wedding festive and funny features
Armenian wedding ceremony is known for its festive quality and funny traditions.
Singing, dancing and present!?
The groom’s people make their way to the bride’s home singing and dancing with so called “trays” or “sinis”, a present, wrapped traditional baskets for the bride, and carrying veil, perfume, make-up, shoes and anything else she might need for that special day.
Let’s steal a bride’s shoe!
Another interesting tradition of Armenian wedding is that one of the bride’s shoes will be stolen at some point during the process. And, it may or may not be given back to the family only if someone pays for it (usually poor Godfather will pay!).
Again threaten for money!
When the groom party is about to leave the bride’s home, one of the bride’s younger male relatives blocks the door with a sword and asks for a coin from the groom’s side.
Armenian Wedding Tradition 5) Ceremony at Church
The next interesting traditional part of the Armenian wedding ceremony is the one in church that lasts for about an hour.
After the ceremony, being blessed by the priest, the couple exchange their rings as a symbol of unity, which is almost the same as in wedding ceremonies in other countries.
There is also a ritual of crowning. Their parents or the priest at the church put a crown on the heads of the newly married to symbolize their own little kingdom.
Armenian Wedding Tradition 6) After church ceremony
After the ceremony in church, the wedding party heads to the groom’s house where his mother waits for the newly married couple.
In ancient times of Armenia, the mothers of both sides were not supposed to participate in the wedding ceremony. It was normal for the bride’s mother to stay at home and mourn the loss of her daughter. And, the groom’s mother stays at home preparing for welcoming the new daughter and putting lavash, a traditional Armenian bread, on their shoulders when they arrive finally.
However, nowadays, this tradition is not applied because no one wants to miss the wedding ceremony, of course, and all the fun: especially those mothers! Time has passed…
Probably, it is good for relieving daily stress as well, when the couple enters the house, each of them starts breaking plates placed on the entrance by the groom mother.
This plate breaking is believed to have an effect on taking the evil away from home: not on relieving stress from your evil boss at work…
Armenian Wedding Tradition 7) Presents for the newly-married couple
Giving presents to the newly-married couple is a separate ceremony of the wedding actually. This moment is probably the long-waited moment for the groom and bride.
During this “present time”, usually the Godfather is supposed to bring the most expensive wedding gift. Again, poor Godfather! Other guests and relatives of groom and bride give the couple various different types of presents, such as household goods, jewelry and even money.
Armenian Wedding Tradition 8) Wedding reception
The reception of Armenian wedding usually begins at the night before the wedding ceremony.
The groom’s family brings beautifully wrapped gifts and presents boxes to the family of the bride, which contain the bride’s shoes, her veil, perfume, flowers, chocolate and Armenian brandy, cognac.
In this reception, especially in the traditional style, the dress for the bride is basically the same usually. If she is a traditional Armenia, the bride tends to wear red silk gown and a cardboard headpiece wings, covered with some feathers.
If you receive invitations to Armenian wedding receptions, please check the dress of bride, then, you may guess whether she is a traditional girl or not.
Just too many people sometimes
As it is usual for Armenians to keep close with even far relatives, the wedding reception is usually full of guests with invitations.
Surprisingly, 300-600 guests in wedding reception are not unusual here in Armenia. Yet, because of that, the reception of an Armenian wedding is so fun!
Armenian Wedding Tradition 9) Red Apple Ceremony
In the morning after the ceremony, women related to the groom bring a red apple to the bride’s home that symbolizes her virginity.
This is another tradition of Armenian wedding that has been very strictly preserved over a long period of time. Although this tradition is becoming less and less common in the capital city of Armenia, Yerevan, Armenians living in the countryside still pay significant attention to it.
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What can be said to sum up everything about Armenian weddings?
These people really like and they are impressively good at having fun, eating, drinking, dancing and celebrating all life events and occasions to their fullest extent.
But the most significant of all: they also honor the traditions of the past. Weddings and other crowded events are to serve as venue for numerous families and friends to come together and celebrate such an exciting event as, for example, creation of new life, new family that is marriage.