A wedding is such a joyous time that you want it to have the best of luck for not only the day but for eternity. It’s little wonder that wedding traditions and superstitions are universal. For example something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
How many of us have seen brides panic at the last minute to make sure she has all four covered? We’ve all had to separate the groom and bride on the day of their wedding because we all know it is bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding.
But there are wedding traditions and superstitions that are unique to the Greek culture and that’s what we are exploring here. And from region to region, from island to island, the superstitions vary in degree.
Even before the wedding day is announced, the bride and groom must pick specific days on the calendar to make sure they harness all the best luck for their nuptials. The celebration of the krevati, the making of the marital bed, is a time to celebrate the couples purity and fertility. But lock up the baby boys as superstitious mother-in-laws are always on the hunt to find a male toddler to throw on the bed so the bride can go on and produce many-a-sons to keep the family name going.
Another way to make sure the bride bears healthy and happy baby boys is to get a groomsman to visit her house before the wedding, pick out a pair of her shoes and put money in them and put a shoe on her right foot and say three times ‘five sons and one daughter’ and then put on the other shoe while she kisses his hand.
Biology has nothing over what sex the child is going to be when you have Greek superstitions to compete with.
To ensure the bride has a happy and harmonious relationship with her mother-in-law, don’t worry about communication when you have this sure fire way to get along: The bride must visit the mother-in-law’s house before the wedding.
Before entering the house, the mother-in-law hands the bride a plate of honey and the bride uses the honey to make three crosses on the door frame before entering the house making sure that the happiness and sweetness enters the house.
This tradition/superstition stems from the early days in the village when brides would live with their husband’s family.
When organising the wedding, be sure to select your bridal parties using odd numbers – three, five and seven – for good luck. And when making the boubounieri, the koufeta should also be in odd numbers.
The bride should never collect her wedding dress during the night and it’s bad luck to wear your wedding rings anytime before the wedding, and not to mention the bad luck if you buy your engagement and wedding rings on the same day – too bad if you were going for a buy in bulk offer.
The celebrations at the bride and groom’s house on the morning of the wedding are always filled with joy… and a lot of food. The singing, the dancing, even down to the koumbaro shaving the groom are all Greek traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation.
But I do have fond memories of my sister getting married, about to leave the parental home for the last time as a bride and my proud, yet highly superstitious mum yelling out “look back at the house” and my dazzled sister turning her head and not knowing why.
Apparently, when you leave your parents house, the bride should look back so that the children she and her husband have will take after her side for the family. And if the bride is walking with a limp down the aisle that will be because of the gold coin she has in her left shoe for good luck of course.
The church service is seeped mostly in Greek Orthodox traditions but superstitions still find a way to creep in.
There is a part in the church service, were the priest talks about the woman being respectful of the husband. At that time the husband or the bride steps on each others foot to symbolise who in the partnership will be the dominant one.
The disko (tray) that the stefana (wedding crowns) are placed on in the church will be covered with koufeta (sugared almonds).
If you manage to sneak one home and happen to be single, be sure to pop it under your pillow, that night you will dream of your future husband or wife.
Speaking of the single ladies, a wedding is your chance to find Mr Right if you listen and do all the superstitions. Never mind always a bridesmaid and never a bride. I’ve known a lot of bridesmaids who have wound up happily married women. But then again, I’ve been a bridesmaid twice and still haven’t walked down the aisle.
If you are lucky enough to be bridesmaid, write down the names of three suitors on the sole of your left shoe. As you dance the night away, one name will remain. He will be your Prince Charming. The tossing of the bouquet is your chance to take up rugby as well as be next in line to get hitched as you push and poke all the other single ladies out of the way so you can catch your way to true love.
Deep down we all want a happy, long and healthy marriage so what if we listen to a few old wives tales to do so? Our culture is deeply embedding in myth and avoiding bad luck at any price. So let’s embrace the superstitions and find ourselves the true love that comes by once in a lifetime. Tout tout!