Polish Wedding - e

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Traditions connected with
Polish Wedding
Traditionally, a Polish wedding would begin
about three days before the wedding date and last
about a week. Everything would be prepared by
the family–food, decorations, even the alcohol.
Nowadays, such weddings happen very rarely,
and only in the countryside, if the family is big
enough. Most weddings today take no more than
two days.
Each wedding is preceded by an engagement.
Traditionally, it would take place at the bride’s
home in the presence of parents on both sides. The
boy would formally ask the parents of the bride for
her hand in marriage. A ring would then be
blessed with holy water and a crucifix and the
parents would agree on the wedding date.
Nowadays an engagement looks completely
different—it is a romantic meeting of two lovers
who do not ask their parents for permission.
According to Polish traditions, the wedding
should take place during a year after the
engagement, and that months play an important
role as well. Traditionally, in Poland, even today
couples pick their wedding date based on the
months that have a letter “R” in their spelling. It is
supposed to bring good luck. This custom, like
many others, is proof that the Poles are a very
superstitious people.
A wedding in Poland is a very important event
and therefore requires careful planning by the
bride and the groom along with family and
friends. The fun starts with the bachelor and
maiden evenings. These evenings are usually held
one week before the wedding. The evening begins
at home, however, after imbibing copious
quantities of alcohol, the parties move to the pub
or a club. Ladies and gentlemen party separately,
of course, and the evening goes on until the last
man is left standing!
Polish weddings are held
mostly in the Saturday
afternoon. The couple
spends the night before the
wedding apart from each
other. The next day, the
groom arrives at the bride’s
house where they shall
receive the blessing of the
parents. Only the closest
family, parents and seniors
take part in this ceremony as
they wish the couple good
luck in their life together.
Then the couple, the
bridesmaid and the best man
go to church for the wedding
ceremony.
The bridesmaid and
the best man are also
called witnesses. By
the way, in Poland,
we have one maid
and one best
man. When
everything is ready,
the priest comes to
welcome the couple
and then all follow
him to the altar.
Sometimes the
bride’s father leads
her to the altar.
The wedding ceremony
takes about an hour, after
which the spouses are
showered with flowers
and coins when they leave
the church—for good luck,
of course. Before heading
out to the feast, invited
guests as well as those not
invited to the wedding
feast, wish the married
couple all the best, and
hand them flowers and
gifts. Finally comes the
time to go to the wedding
feast. Usually a rented bus
transports guests to the
location of the feast, but
guests need to confirm this
ahead of time.
Before the married couple
leave the church grounds,
there is one more obstacle to
be overcome. According to
Polish wedding traditions,
anyone, even strangers can
stand on the street and block
the road to wish the couple
good luck in their marriage.
This is called “The Gate”,
where two people stand across
the street holding a rope
decked with ribbons, o go
further down the road, the
couple must pay a ransom:
children are given sweets and
adults a bottle of vodka. It is
possible for the couple to face
such obstacles many times
over before reaching their
destination!
Upon reaching the place
of the wedding feast, the
bride and groom are
welcomed with bread and
salt, as well as a glass of
champagne, after drinking
which they throw the
glasses back! The groom
carries his wife over the
threshold and the
wedding feast begins.
Every wedding feast is
different, but you can
expect hearty food and
large quantities of alcohol,
usually vodka and wine.
The main dish is served
shortly after the start of the
wedding, followed by
snacks and cakes. During
this time the bride and
groom, along with the
witnesses, may disappear
from the banquet for an
hour or two to take
wedding pictures with the
photographer.
At midnight the Oczepiny (“unveiling”) takes place the
ceremony of removing the bridal veil and the groom’s
bow tie, to symbolize the transition from unmarried to
married. All unmarried girls must take part in catching the
veil, while bachelors fight to get their hands on a bow tie.
The winners are a new future couple and must take part
in several games and dances together. Then a number of
games for adults follow. Only the toughest competitors
should participate in them, as they involve drinking shots
of vodka, and often running around the chairs.
If the bride and groom arrange a Poprawiny
(“wedding after-party”), guests may continue
partying and drinking the next day, only this
time in a much more intimate, casual
atmosphere. Usually there are lighter forms of
alcohol to drink and appetizers and hot dishes
are served.
Guests usually discuss the events of the
previous day, with music playing and dancing.
Poprawiny officially lasts a lot shorter, usually
finished early in the evening, but one can
continue to have fun until a later hour.
As you can see, it is very
important for us Poles to
celebrate with family,
relatives and friends. It is
important to ensure that the
feast is sumptuous, that there
is no lack of vodka and that
the guests are happy–these
are the traditional priorities
of Polish hospitality.
It is worth reminding that you must eat a lot, dance,
keep moving and try not to drink too much vodka,
especially don’t with all the uncles and seniors! A
person with no skill and practice will probably end
up under a table, much to the delight of the other
guests. If you manage to avoid this, time spent at a
wedding in Poland will provide you with many
unforgettable memories.
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