Czech Weddings Traditions
Many old wedding traditions come from pre-Christian time. What is today for us original and funny in that time used to have a very deep meaning and was taken as something serious. Frequent rituals had to guarantee not only the happiness and a lot of children and defense before illnesses, starving, the children’s death, but also before the argue, insufficient love, hate – but first of all against the bad ghosts who were the reason of all suffering. Other traditions had more symbolical character. They documented for example the loose of virginity and the beginning of a new époque of life. Sometimes it was a challenge for the couple – stay together in good days and also in bad days. Not all the traditions are good for imitate. Some of them can refresh the feast and give her the right atmosphere and finally approximate the old traditions.
Inviting for wedding
The groom and two young men passed by several houses and using short poems they were inviting for the wedding. This inviting was made several days before the wedding or the same day as the wedding was. The person who was inviting had the hat decorated with rosemary and a pale with white ribbon.
According to the tradition they are made several weeks before the wedding. They are distributed to familiars, friends and neighbors and also serve as an invitation for the wedding. Cookies should have at least three type of filling and they represent the housewife culinary art. As the tradition is not only very nice but also very tasty, there is no danger that it will be forgotten.
In a tradition way the day before the weeding single friends and peers of the engaged couple met in the house of groom and bride. They prepare the wedding decoration, especially May poles. During the evening they were drinking, singing, dancing and having good time. The stag party is still very popular. Nowadays it is exclusively man’s part, when the groom with his friends shave the stag party several days before and also with drinking a lot. In that the tradition has not changed.
In the past the preparing of the wedding starts with the courting. For that purpose there was a bride’s man. With him the groom and his father came to the bride’s house and the dower and groom’s property were discussed. If the parents were not agreeing, the courting was over and the ill feeling between families had started. This you can easily find in our classical literature.
Rosemary bridal wreath
In some countries the groom used to send the rosemary bridal wreath as prove of her virginity. The wreath was taken by the bride’s man accompanied with the music. The bride gave the wreath on a white plate covered with white scarf and the bride’s man took it back to the groom accompanied with the parade. The groom usually kept the wreath for the whole life.
Club of singles
Single friends and males block with the poles, chains and silk ribbons the way to the church. They take them out just in case the groom pays the ransom for the bride. This tradition symbolizes bride’s saying goodbye to the previous home, free-minded youth and the beginning of the new life. Sometimes the couple has to pay for the way together. This means a challenge to front together all the obstacles in the life.
Dancing with the veil
Around the midnight the bride takes off the veil and with the eyes tied starts to dance. Her single friends dance around her and the bride tries to catch one of them and put the veil on. The superstition says that the girl who is caught will be the next bride.
The scoop dancing
Finally al the guests arm themselves with pots and pot lids and march singing and doing a lot of noise through the house or the flat of the couple to drive away all the bad ghosts.
Putting the cap on the newly-wed
The evening before the wedding night bridesmaids took of the wreath and put the cap on. The bride took it of twice to express the sadness of loosing the freedom, but for the third time she left it on. The wreath symbolizes the virginity and freedom, the cap honour and dignity of the married lady. These symbols you can find in the novels from the past century.
Feeding with the soup
Similarly to the braking of plates eating soup together from one plate during the wedding banquet symbolizes the cooperation of the couple. The second and more important meaning is the symbol of one familiar slice from which is necessary to cut and give fifty-fifty/ equally. For that high-minded symbolism is this tradition very extended.
Circular dance (or wreath)
The bride dances with closed eyes and single girls try to get a part of her veil. Men form a protection circle around the bride to avoid that girls get to the bride. If the circle is destroyed, it symbolizes the leave with innocence (virginity).
In the doorstep of the bride’s house the hunk with the axe and a bottle of wine was prepared. If he took the axe, it was a good sign for being a good housekeeper. But if he decided to take the bottle, very bad – he will be a drunkard.
In the first step into the groom’s house the bride has the rod to quickly clean the house. This expresses that she wants to be a good housewife.
Throwing the rise
To have many children, people throw the rice after the ceremony, in some places the rice is substituted by the confetti, nuts or raisins, sometimes with bonbons. The same meaning has other tradition: during the wedding banquet the bride has sited a small child in her lap.
Friends bombard the couple in front of their house with nuts, cereals, small coins or figs. In this case it has nothing to do with the number of children but with the offering for the ghosts of the house and familiar chimney. The offering should conciliate the ghost with the new incomers and new family.
Rain down with roses
Nephews or daughters of couple’s friends go in front of the wedding parade to the church and rain down roses. This is also pagan tradition. The flowers should attract the earth mother.
Friends form the corridor where have to pass through the couple. They try to keep the couple from passing but not in the violent way. The symbolical meaning is: passing through the problems in marriage.
Friends of the groom tense in front of the church the rope decorated with flowers, ribbons and empty bottles and allow continuing only when they get money from the groom. This is the way how to be ransomed from young sins.
Carrying through the doorstep
Why the groom carries the ride through the doorstep of their new home? It is for outsmarting the ghosts who live below the doorstep and protect the house. Other symbolical meaning is the beginning of a new life.
Kidnapping of the bride
It symbolizes girl’s separation from her parents and passage to new life situation. Nearly at the end of the wedding banquet friends kidnap the bride. If the groom does not find her he has to pay the ransom. Be careful: the action should be temporary bordered, so other guests will not be waiting long for the bride’s return and will not leave without seeing her again. It would not help to better their mood definitely.
They are single and accompany the bride to the church. Also this tradition ha its sense. The ghosts that want to harm the bride should be confused her with other bridesmaids. To be successful bridesmaids have to have very similar dress as the bride wears.
This tradition has the roots in two superstitions. That trashes bring you the happiness and that scavenging together the couple show the will to cooperate and their marriage will be harmonic. Breaking plates is very thankful part of the wedding tradition till now.