Monday, July 5, 2010

Polish Wedding customs





In Polish weddings the celebrations may continue for two or three days. In the past, the engagement ceremony was organized by the future groom as a formal family gathering, during which he asked his chosen lady to marry him. In the recent years this custom has changed and today an engagement is much more personal and intimate. An elegant dinner party afterward is still a nice way to inform the closest family members about the couples' decision to get married.

In some regions of Poland the tradition to invite the wedding guests in person is still upheld. Many young couples, accompanied by the parents, visit their family and friends to hand them the wedding invitations personally.

According to the old tradition a groom arrives with his parents at the house of a bride just before the wedding ceremony. At that time both parents and parents-in-law give a young couple their blessing. The couple enter the church together and walks up to the altar followed by two witnesses and the parents. In Poland it is quite unusual for the bride to be walked down the aisle or to have bridesmaids and groomsmen in a wedding. The couple is assisted by two witnesses, a man (usually grooms' side) and a woman (usually brides' side) who are either family members or close friends.

The Polish bride traditionally wears a white dress and a veil. The groom, on the other hand usually wears a fitted suit with a bow tie and a boutonnière that matches the brides' bouquet. During the ceremony wedding rings are exchanged and both the husband and wife wear them on their right hand. Right after the ceremony the closest family and all the guest form a line in the front of the church to congratulate the newlyweds and wish them love and happiness. As soon as the married couple leave the church they get showered with rice for luck or guests drop coins at their feet for them to pick up. This is done to ensure a good and prosperous future for the newlyweds.

Once all the guests have showered the couple with kisses, hugs and flowers everyone heads to the reception. It is a custom in Poland to prepare "passing gates" on the way to the reception for the newlyweds who, in order to pass, have to give the "gate keepers" some vodka. This is a misinterpretation of an earlier tradition, where the "passing gates" were built if the bride was an orphan and money collected by "gate keepers" from the guests was handed over to the bride as her dowry (being an orphan usually implied poverty).

The married couple is welcomed at the reception place by the parents with bread and salt. The bread symbolizes the prosperity, salt stands for hardship of life, the parents wish the young couple that they never go hungry and learn how to deal with every day hardships together. The wedding party lasts (and the bride and groom remain) until the last guest leaves, usually until morning.

In Poland, movements like Human Liberties Crusade or Wedding of the Weddings promote non-alcoholic wedding celebrations.

Source : wikipedia

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