A Wedding – one of the most crucial moments in our live – is in every culture associated with many customs and traditions or even magical rites performed to ensure the newlyweds happiness, prosperity, children, and to protect them from any harm or misfortunes.
It’s both happy and sad event. A history of a new family starts here but at the same time the bride and the bridegroom have to abandon their former lives, their homes, and say goodbye to care-free childhood and youth. Anyway at least that’s how it’s perceived in traditional folk culture.
What were the weddings like at the foothills of Babia Góra 100 years ago?
Well, the couples were usually very young – 16-18, and matched by the will of their parents after they have dealt with financial and property matters. The rich married maids with big dowries, the poor had to choose their partner among the girls from families of modest means and the exceptions from that rule were very rare.
The preparations to the wedding such as baking and cooking stared a week before. Almost all women from both families took part.
In the evening before the wedding, bridesmaids used to come to the bride’s house to a co called wreath.
They were singing and making a wedding wreath for her and also some festoons to decorate the door of the wedding house.
The bridegroom, on the other hand used to spend this last evening with his friends drinking vodka.
The marriage was usually solemnized at the main mass on Sunday morning. Because the way to the church was often many miles long and the wedding party had to travel in horse-driven carriages setting off early morning.
The celebration would start at dawn with the bride getting ceremonially dressed helped by bridesmaids, her mother plaiting her hair for the last time and putting the wedding wreath on. The wedding dress was no different from their Sunday best clothes.
When ready dressed the bride would wait in a chamber for the bridegroom to arrive for her. He used to come to pick her with a music band playing occasional music when he was entering her house. In the hall the bridesmaids were waiting and there was a sung dialogue between them and the best men to let the bridegroom in. She would only come if her bridesmaids got a bottle of vodka from the first best man. After the greetings they were given weeding flower bouquets which they have attached to their clothes. The parents and the master of ceremony had already been waiting for them in the main room to bless their children. The couple had to kneel on a white sheet spread for them on the floor, and the master of ceremony would give a customary speech. During the blessing a religious song to Mother Mary was played or sung.
A carriage with a pair of horse would take them to church. The horses were decorated with juniper twigs with coloured paper ribbons. The party was often stopped at so called gates – road blocked with decorated tree spread across the road. The ‘gaters’ were often dressed up; there had to be a ‘Gypsy woman’ (usually a dressed up boy) with a child or a doll in her hands asking for money. The gat was opened only after the forfeit (vodka) was given by the best man.
Upon the return from the church the bride’s mother would greet the newlyweds on threshold of the wedding house with bread and salt. Somewhere an old broom was placed – if a wife entered without noticing it that meant she would be a poor housewife, if she picked it and threw it away however, this was a sign that she would be thrifty.
The wedding party could begin. They danced and ate and drank in one room. The climax of the wedding was ‘cepiny’ About midnight the part was stopped by the matron of honour and other married women who would sing an occasional song, then the bride was seated in the middle of the room on a special vessel for milking sheep, so called ‘gielata’ or a stool with a cushion. In the past the bridesmaids were holding lit candles while the matron of honour was doing her hair in a bun, so called ‘cuba’, and then put a bonnet on. The whole ceremony was accompanied with songs about the bride becoming a married woman, crying over her maiden years gone, and finally giving her some frivolous advice and warnings concerning her married life. Finally the bridegroom had to give a forfeit (vodka) to get his wife back from the hands of married women who were dancing her in a middle of a dancing circle.
The following day the young wife was transferred to her husbands house. She took part of her dowry with her packed in a wooden chest. At her husband’s there was another reception and so the party continued.
If the newlyweds loved each other children would come quickly and were healthy, the woman was thrifty, the man did not use to visit the local tavern too often, than they were regarded as a happy family and the neighbours had nothing to gossip about.
Dr Urszula Janicka-Krzywda
In our wedding offer we provide live music bands, presents for the guests, home-baked cakes, accommodation for the bride and groom and the wedding guests, brand alcohols in low prices, additional attractions during the wedding e.g. story-telling, sleigh ride in winter, light carriage ride in summer, fireworks show, Swedish buffet ‘a trough of goodies’, a stuffed roast pig, roast lamb.