The modern Cypriot wedding

As I mentioned before, one of the main reasons for my visit to Cyprus is to attend my relative’s wedding which took place in a very hot, humid Lefkosia on Saturday.

My cousin and friend  and I set off from a very pleasant 26 degrees in Treis Elies at 2pm to make our way down the winding roads to Lefkosia. First stop was the bride’s house, where the dressing of the bride was taking place. The house was crowded with relatives and friends as well as the wedding photographers and their lights making it even hotter in spite of  the air conditioning being was on. The bride looked very beautiful with her bridesmaids; all dressed in simple white long dresses and red sashes, with garlands of red roses around their heads, carrying little baskets of rose petals. Here we witnessed the ceremony, with musical accompaniment provided by a couple of young female musicians playing a fiddle and a bouzouki. The ceremony involved each of the close friends and relatives taking a red scarf and passing it around the bride three times and kissing her and then passing the kapnistiri  over her head. A very emotional event for the bride’s parents and brother. The bride’s father bursting with pride and the mother and brother wiping a tear from their eyes. A buffet, of course, was provided with little delicacies of pastries and sweets as well as some delicious figs brought down from the bride’s father’s garden. Small gifts were handed out as well as sugared almonds.

We then all made our way to the church, a short drive away with car horns blaring to announce her arrival. At the church the musicians led the bride and her parents to the church; a modern equivalent of the village wedding where the musicians and the whole village accompanied the bride and groom to the ceremony .

The groom was waiting to meet her with all the guests outside on the steps and a huge smile full of warmth, spread across his face as she approached, he was so pleased to see her.

Inside the church were all the guests and I met relatives I hadn’t seen for many years. The ceremony full of symbolism involving the Service of Betrothal and the Ceremony of the Sacrament of Marriage lasted an hour with the exchange of rings . Towards the end the stefana, two white garlands attached by a ribbon and blessed by the priest, are passed over the bride and groom’s heads three times by the priest and they circle around the altar again three times, led by the priest. The three represents the Holy Trinity.

We all congregated outside the church where rose petals and crackers were thrown and a mingling of guests exchanged greetings. The  girls all lined up ready to catch the bouquet as it was thrown and caught by a small girl. The next step was the reception at a venue in Lefkosia which would last two hours after which a dinner was attended by a number of guests. My cousin Androula and I were invited to visit another relatives house to refresh ourselves and relax for a while after the ceremony and to wait for the crush at the reception to die down.

Not all the guests attend every part of the wedding and a lot just go to the reception where the bride and groom stand on a dais or raised platform at the end of the room and guests line up to congratulate and greet them and give them their gift of money in an envelope, which are placed in a box behind them. Altogether 4,000 guests were invited. Around the room were a couple of bars where drinks could be ordered and more food  was available but this was informal so people mingled and chatted to old friends. Then a selected number of guests went upstairs to a more formal setting with large tables and  as instructed, each table then went to help ourselves to more food. Then the dancing commenced. the women joining in a large circle to dance the traditional dances. Dancing goes on well into the early hours but I had to take my leave about midnight to drive back to Larnaca.

A lovely day and I will remember it often, I was so pleased to be able to attend.


A Cyprus Wedding

Weddings 2011

Image by The Style PA via Flickr

I haven’t posted for a while. I do try to post about once a week but I have been so pre-occupied that the time has just flown by without me noticing. You see, I’m off to a wedding in a couple of weeks time, in Cyprus and I hadn’t got a thing to wear. There are going to be two receptions a week apart in different parts of the island  so of course two lots of clothes, what’s a girl to do!!!

A daughter of one of my cousin’s is getting married in September and  I have always wanted to attend a family wedding in Cyprus so when I received my invite I thought it would be an ideal time to go. I am told it’s going to be a big affair with a lot of guests, the bride is an only daughter so of course the parents will want to make it as wonderful as possible for her and the parents are both well-respected members of the community with a very wide circle of friends.

Weddings in Cyprus traditionally would involve the whole village or community. The bride and groom would be accompanied through the street by them with a fiddler serenading as they processed.  After the ceremony in the church a meal of mammoth proportions would have been prepared  for everyone involving usually a mountain of souvla,  either sheep or goat meat cooked over charcoal, trestle tables would be lined up in rows and on each table a bottle of brandy and wine. On arrival the happy couple greet the  guests and the traditional congratulations given and often a small sweet biscuit or sugared almonds received by the guests to take away. After  the guests have collected their plate of food and eaten, the bride and groom would take to the floor and dance to the village band and one by one the guests will approach the couple and pin money on the bride’s dress. Then the party would get started and the men would do their macho dance, slapping their thighs, squatting down and jumping up, arms in the air and woopah! till the dawn. The girls and women sedately dancing together in a line.

This format is not so common now especially in towns, weddings are usually smaller affairs and more sedate  but elements remain and after I have been to one I will know more. Apart from anything else it will be a rare opportunity for me to meet many relatives I haven’t seen for a very long time as well as meet some for the first time.

So it’s back to the sewing machine for me.