The Beautiful Tradition of a Hutsul Wedding
Despite the far-reaching changes in the world at large, mainly brought about by the frantic pace of technological advances, some communities are most reluctant to let go of age-old traditions. This is something that travelers are grateful for, because it is generally age-old traditions that make different communities unique and fascinating. The Hutsuls of Ukraine are just such a community, treasuring the traditions which have been passed down through generations – and few celebrations bring out the value and beauty of tradition than a Hutsul wedding.
Some bridal couples choose to wear the western style wedding attire with the bride in a white dress and the groom in formal attire. But traditionally the bride-to-be lovingly embroiders a shirt for her future husband, which he will proudly wear on the wedding day, and the bride may have matching embroidery on her wedding dress. This is a beautiful tradition that many Hutsul couples are returning to, often with the guests dressing in traditional clothing as well.
Some time prior to the wedding, match-making rituals are observed, which include the prospective groom calling on the parents of the bride, along with two respected older men of the village acting in the capacity of match-makers. If the match is agreeable to all parties, the wedding preparations begin. On the eve of the wedding, the women gather in the family homes of both the bride and groom to bake wedding bread known as “korovais”. This is symbolic of wishes for the wellbeing of the young couple. While this bread-baking ritual in going on, the bride may spend time with her girl-friends where they will sing melancholy songs about how the young bride will be leaving her girl-hood and freedom behind to take on the responsibilities of a married woman. Gifts will be exchanged and the groom is presented with his embroidered shirt.
On the morning of the wedding, the bride-to-be will be attended to by her bridesmaids as she gets dressed and has her hair is braided. The groom and his attendants will wait at the door of the young bride’s house. One of his attendants presents a carved wooden box with the bride’s wreath, a mirror and gifts for the bride and her bridesmaids. Part of the preparation ritual includes the bride’s father touching her head with the wreath three times before placing it gently on her head. The bride asks for her parent’s blessing, which they gladly give.
When the wedding march is played, the groom enters the room handing a bouquet of flowers to his bride. After attaching corsages to the groom’s lapel and that of his attendants, the wedding party walks to the church. Wheat kernels are scattered over the couple as a sign of fertility and love.
The celebration after the wedding ceremony is a lively affair, with music, food, laughter and dancing. The dividing of the wedding loaf takes place, with the bride and groom sharing the top of the loaf, while the rest of the loaf is distributed to the guests. Amidst good wishes from all, the newly married couple embarks on their new life on what everyone hopes will be a future that is “happy-ever-after”. If you are visiting Ukraine, you may have the good fortune to witness a traditional Hutsul wedding.