Ukrainian-Jewish Wedding – Culture and Traditions
My husband and I were looking forward to this particular wedding since the invitation was from our long-time friends, and the traditions were intertwined with Ukrainian and Jewish cultures.
The church ceremony took place at a Ukrainian Catholic Church, with all the usual Ukrainian traditions of the Bride and Groom wearing periwinkle/myrtle wreaths on their heads during the crowning ceremony.
Also standing on an embroidered scarf (rushnyk) in front of the Tetrapod.
Being led by the priest three times around the Tetrapod, for the Ceremonial Walk.
Sharing the Common Cup, which for this wedding was the cup used by Groom’s father during Passover Seder, and other family dinners.
Also, the Ave Maria was sung by a soloist, while the Bride prayed at the altar of the Virgin Mary, asking for a blessing of fertility, and being thankful for her husband.
This ceremony also included a Jewish wedding tradition, the presence of the Huppah (also known as Chuppah), which consists of a beautiful lace canopy suspended from 4 decorative posts. The Bride and Groom were standing on a Ukrainian embroidered scarf (rushnyk), under the Huppah, throughout the wedding ceremony.
Once the Bride and Groom were pronounced husband and wife, a Jewish tradition of the glass-breaking ceremony took place. A wine glass, wrapped in a white cloth napkin, was placed on the floor in front of the Groom, to step on and crush. It is a symbol of their strong marriage bond, and the shattered glass signifies the many pieces needed to make one whole, successful relationship and marriage, which can only be dissolved if all the glass pieces can be glued back together again (which is never).
Another significant part of a Ukrainian wedding is the greeting of the Bride and Groom with wine, bread, and salt, by their parents.
Since the reception of this wedding took place on a Saturday, which is a Jewish Shabbat day, hence at sundown the Father of the Groom picked up the Challah, a traditional Jewish bread, and with a special chant, he greeted all the guests and the Bride and Groom. Afterward, the bread was cut up and served to family and friends.
The reception began with the Bride and Groom sitting on chairs, which were lifted up high into the air, above everyone else, and the traditional Jewish folk dance, Hava Nagila, was carried out by the wedding party, and family and friends of the Bride and the Groom.
The Bride also selected to follow the traditional Ukrainian exchange of the veil with the “babushka” scarf, which was carried out by her mother, to signify that her daughter is no longer a single lady, but rather a married woman.
If you would like to learn more about the symbolic meanings of the different parts of this wedding ceremony, please read the next post, which mirrors side by side, the Byzantine Rite and the Jewish traditions, as presented in the wedding ceremony program booklet, prepared by the Bride and Groom, and passed out to everyone at the church ceremony.