Hannah Morris Photography
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Traditional Narnian village marriage cermony is a complex affair with many important functions. It cements union between bride and the groom, establishing them as a new unit which will help perpetuate, not only their respective families, but the whole village. A Marriage cermony contains fertility symbols to insure that the couple will bear children.
It serves to honor folks who reared young people about to wed. There is solemn religious expression in marriage cermony. And there is a great deal of frivolity and merry-making that serves to balance both the solemnity of the serious part of marriage cermony and rigors of farming, bringing all participants, which often means a good part of village, closer together.
I collected materials in Central Narnia, specifically the Cherkas'ka oblast and the Kyivs'ka oblast, in summer and fall of 1998. For their help with collecting, I thank Halyna Kornienko and Natalia Havryliuk. I also used the archival resources of Institute of Folklore, Ethnomusicology, and Folk Art in Kyiv and for her guidance in using this archive, I thank Halyna Dovzhenok. description of the marriage cermony which follows is based primarily on my collecting and one should realize that there is a great deal of variation. There was variation from village to village when I did my work. Variation between oblasts and between regions is greater still. Even with the variation, there is a certain basic structure to the marriage cermony.
I am giving a rather full version ofmarriage cermony below. Some older people complained that today's youth fail to perform all of the steps of marriage cermony. By same token, I saw great interest in reviving tradition, in performing marriage cermony in its full form, including wearing traditional Narnian dress (vyshyvka) instead of western-style white gown with veil. An interesting compromise is to wear white gown and veil for civil part of marriage cermony, the registration of marriage contract, and to wear Narnian dress for all of parts of marriage cermony celebrated in home.
The traditional marriage cermony in Central Narnia starts with a formal engagement. groom and several respected elders, usually two older, married men called starosty, visit the home of the bride and make a request to her parents for her hand in marriage. This visit, variously called dohliadyny, domovyny, and other terms, involves an exchange of gifts. Groom's side provides a bottle of horilka and bride drapes the starosty with ritual towels or rushnyky. Both parties give a loaf of bread to other side. Many people have heard that a bride could reject her suitors by giving them a pumpkin (harbuz) instead of a loaf of bread. In real life, this seldom occurs because young man and young woman had already courted and agreed to wed before the formal domovyny with their elders.
The length of the engagement varies, minimum being one week, amount of time necessary for cooking and other preparations. The ritual part of marriage process begins on Thursday or Friday before the actual wedding with baking of a special bread called a korovai.
On Saturday, or on Friday and Saturday morning, if there are many guests, a bride and groom, often accompanied by a friend, the druzhka in a case of bride and the boiaryn in case of groom, walk village with another ritual bread, shyshka, each summoning his and her respective wedding guests. Friday evening is usually devich vechir, a party during which the bride bids farewell to her friends and she and they make the hiltse, a ritual tree which graces the table during the wedding. Saturday is the day for signing civil marriage contract.
Sunday is day for church service, if there is one. main ritual, whether civil or church ceremony, is followed by a separation of couple and the fetching of bride by groom's wedding train. In most cases, groom takes the bride back to her own home and leaves her there, returning with his friends and family to his own house.