Greek customs

Published: September 10, 2019
Wedding in Chania, Παράδοση, Ήθη, Έθιμα

In Greece there are many customs relating to weddings which vary from region to region. Some however are common and many couples follow them. The following customs seem to be the most prevalent:

• A custom which prevailed many years ago was that of the dowry. The bride to be would prepare her dowry which consisted of white linen, clothes, underwear, kitchen utensils and ornaments. All these were either bought or were handmade by the same bride and her mother. On the Thursday before the wedding the dowry would be transferred by wagons, horses, cars and trucks to the bride’s future home. The bride before the transfer of the dowry to the future would have it on display at her parents’ house for whoever wanted to go visit and to pass on their best wishes. The custom of a dowry does not exist now only in few cases in isolated villages.

• On the Thursday before the wedding the «bridal bed»is prepared. Unmarried girls, friends of the bride undertake the making of the bed with white sheets and white handmade covers. The top cover is decorated with sugar-coated almonds and rice. An unmarried girl may roll over the bed a symbol of fertility and a fruitful relationship. Others put babies of friends or family on the bed, a symbol of fertility. Money is then put on the bed by each present as a gift to the couple. The making of the bridal bed, and the whole process symbolizes fertility, prosperity, and a prosperous relationship.

• Before the wedding the bride writes on the soles of her wedding shoes the names of girlfriends who are not married yet on. Any names that are erased after the wedding will marry in the near future.

• As the bride preparing for the sacrament parents, siblings and relatives put money in a shoe, a token of a little help at the beginning of her marital life.

• The day of the wedding the bride will get ready with the help of her family, relatives and friends. The father of the bride is one who will wear the right shoe. The groom must not be present because it is considered bad luck. The groom is not to see the wedding dress before the wedding, he will see it for the first time when the bride arrives at the church.

• The bride usually arrives a few minutes late to the church prolonging the agony of the groom.

• The bride arrives at the church with her father and eldest brother at her side. They will deliver the bride to the groom. The rest of the family, relatives and friends follow behind.

• During the ceremony the best man gives the rings to the priest and crosses the wreaths three times over the heads of the couple. The wreaths which are tied together with a white ribbon symbolize the unity of man and wife.

• Everyone awaits for the moment when the priest says «to the woman must fear(respect) her husband». The bride usually then steps on the foot of the groom to show that she is in charge!!! . However there are cases in which the groom takes offense to this gesture and may leave as in the case of a famous Greek movie. However this custom has nothing to do with the church or religion.

• When you start dancing the dance of Isaiah as it is known this is when the guests throw rice on the couple. Usually the friends of the couple empty bags full of rice on their heads.

• As soon as the ceremony is over parents, relatives and friends of the couple put jewelry on or give money to the couple as a sign of luck and prosperity.

• After the ceremony the bride, the groom and their families remain in the church, line up waiting for the guests to greet them in turn offering their best wishes.

• When the newly weds go home or to the reception, the cars in procession all honk their horns celebrating the marriage of the couple with a lot of noise.

• If the newly weds drop in at their new home before they go to the reception, the two mothers will wait for them there and welcome them spoon feeding them honey with walnuts with silver spoons. Walnuts because they break into four parts symbolize the bride, the groom and both their families.

• When the couple arrive at the reception the bride invites her unmarried girlfriends to gather around her and without seeing, will throw the bouquet. The young lady who catches the wedding bouquet is considered the next lucky in line to marry.