Weddings vary greatly among cultures, countries and social classes. In Armenian culture, wedding ceremonies have undergone some changes but have kept their main features. Every Armenian knows that an Armenian wedding is a serious and great event. Thus it is usually celebrated with a lot of festivities. According to an ancient Armenian saying, a wedding should be celebrated “seven days and seven nights.” Even though it is just a saying and does not correspond with the reality, Armenian weddings are still accompanied with big and complex ceremonies.
ASKING OF THE HAND
Traditionally, before the actual marriage takes place, the groom has to ask the bride’s hand. As an old Armenian tradition, the groom with his parents, brothers, sisters and other relatives is invited to the bride’s house for a dinner. During the dinner, the elder member from the groom’s side has to ask the bride’s side for the hand of their daughter. Then the elder member from the bride’s side answers “yes”, and all the guests celebrate the event with drinks and glasses full of wine.
This tradition is also known as “Khosq-Kap” among the Armenian families. It has come from the ancient times but has kept its significant till these days.
For centuries Armenian church has played an inseparable in Armenian Weddings. The most important ceremonies are the ones held in the church. These traditions not only have their deep roots in Armenian history but are also connected to the Armenian religion.
In the church, the bride and the groom are being blessed by the priest. This part usually lasts for an hour after which the priest is crowning the new married couple. The crowns symbolize the little kingdom of the newly formed family.
CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS OF ARMENIAN WEDDINGS
Rice and Coin Toss
There is another strange but common custom typical for Armenian Weddings. As soon as the newly married couple comes out from the aisle, the relatives and the guests throw rice and coins at them as a symbol of happiness and success in their further life.
After returning home the bride and the groom break plates placed at the entrance. The groom’s mother usually puts the plates there and waits for the married couple to come in. The tradition of breaking plates is a symbol for getting rid of the evil powers.
Gifts for the Newly Married Couple
This is a tradition during which the newly married couple receives lots of gifts. The main and the most important gift is the one provided by the Godfather. Other guests and relatives also take turns to congratulate the groom and the bride and hand in their presents to them.
The “Evil Eye” charm which people in Armenia call ” Atchka Ooloonk” is a blue charm representing an eye. The bride usually wears it to protect herself from the evil eye which can bring bad luck to the couple’s life.
The Pillow Sharing
There is an old Armenian saying that makes up the inseparable part of wedding wishes. The guests and the couple usually say “May you grow old on one pillow.” This wish is uttered for the bride and the groom to have a long and happy life together.
THE TRADITIONAL ARMENIAN WEDDING DRESS CODE
The Bride’s Dress, Crown, and Veil
Traditionally, the main colors of the bride’s wedding dress were green and red. These two perfectly matching colors were a symbol of fortune and happiness. Centuries ago, the traditional Armenian brides used to wear red silk dress with either a green or a red crown made from cardboard. The crown had a shape of wings and was covered with feathers. It symbolized a dove which is a bird of love and fortune.
The veil is another important part of the wedding’s dressing code. Before placing it on the bride’s head, the latter circles it over the heads of the female friends and relatives present in the dressing process. This custom is believed to bring fortune to the unmarried females and help them find their other halves. The person who has to place the veil on the bride’s head is usually a relative or a close family friend who has been in a successful and happy marriage for a long time.
What refers to the groom’s traditional dress code it is also in red and green colors including the unique Armenian patterns.
In contrast to the old traditional Armenian wedding dress code, today’s one is the common white dress for the bride and the black costume for the groom.
The Bride’s Shoes
After the bride is dressed in her wedding gown there comes the traditional part of shoe wearing. The closest male member of the bride’s family enters the bride’s room to help her wear her shoes. The member can be either the bride’s sibling or a person who is close to the family.
There is also a funny Armenian custom connected with the wedding shoes. A member of the bride’s family can hold the bride’s shoe as long as the groom comes and pays to the person to return the shoe to the bride.
According to the tradition, each female member taking part in the bride’s dressing process writes her name under the bride’s wedding shoes to be lucky and luckily get married. As soon as the person, whose name is written on the shoes, gets married the bride crosses off her name.
Overall, Armenian weddings are followed by lots of customs and traditions coming from the ancient times. Even today you can notice the Armenian old traditional features present in the wedding ceremonies.