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Greek Wedding History

The Symbols and Their Importance to the Greek Orthodox Wedding

Greece is an ancient land, with many longstanding and fascinating customs. If you want to incorporate your Greek heritage into your wedding, or are simply looking for inspiration for some meaningful wedding traditions, you will find that there are many wonderful customs integrated into Greek weddings.

A Greek wedding is an event you always remember. The ceremony is filled with symbolism and ancient traditions. The Greek Orthodox wedding ceremony is an ancient service that has been celebrated in its current form for centuries. The ceremony is full of symbolism to reflect the elements of a successful marriage – love, mutual respect, equality and sacrifice.

STEFANA (Wedding Crowns)

The wedding crowns (stefana) are extremely important to a Greek couple. This is an ancient Greek custom, and no Greek wedding would be complete without it. The stefana have been used in Greek orthodox wedding ceremonies for centuries. The crowing is the focal point of the ceremony and the stefana are the symbols of the glory and honour with which God symbolizes the unity of the couple and the presence of Christ who blesses and unites them as king and queen of their home.

The bride and groom wear a pair of crowns (stefana) that is bound together by white ribbon. The ribbon that binds the two crowns is to be kept intact for a life time as it represents the lasting union between the bride and groom. Originally, the crowns were made of materials ranging from lemon leaves to vines to gold and jewels. Because they are considered lasting keepsake brides today will often have custom bridal jewellery and the stefana are usually handcrafted from some fine material such as pearls, diamantes, sterling silver, and Swarovski crystals.

LAMBADES (Wedding Candles)

Two large white Wedding candles (lambades) are required for the Greek Orthodox wedding, and they can be plain, or extravagantly dressed (Serbian Orthodox weddings require four large candles). The lambades indicate that Christ, the light of the world, will light the way for their new life together. The two candles are placed near the bible and they burn from the beginning of the ceremony until its end. They are burning in the name of the Holy Spirit for the couple to give them spirit for their new life together. This tradition goes back to ancient Greek times.

WINE

The special sweet wine offered by the priest to the couple during the ceremony is drunk from one cup and symbolizes that, although they are two separate individuals, they share the one life together.


RICE

The rice which guests sprinkle on the newlyweds during the sacrament is a prayer for the couple to take root and have a happy, blessed, blossoming, thriving life together, summed up in the Greek words - βίων ανθοσπαρτον. It also includes the wish for the couple to create their own family.

KOUFETA - Sugar Almonds, Bomboniere

The custom behind Bomboniere originated 300 years ago in ancient Greece. Bomboniere were given to the guests as a thank you. Wedding Bomboniere consist of an uneven number of sugar coated almonds (usually 5), representing the bittersweet life of a married couple. The 5 almonds have a significant meaning wishing the new husband and wife happiness, health, wealth, children and a long life.


In Greece they are known as κουφέττα (koufetta - a sweet treat). The Bomboniere started in Greece then in Italy and spread to other parts of Europe as well to all continents of the world. Bomboniere is also traditional for Engagements, Christenings, Baptisms, Communions, Confirmations and graduations.

 


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