A Ukrainian wedding used to happen in several stages, the first of which was a ransom. First, bridegroom’s parents at his home treat all their guests after which all of them go together to a bride. On the day of a traditional Ukrainian wedding a bridegroom should first take a bride from her home. On his way to the bride relatives and friends meet him demanding a ransom. It’s the most beautiful and exciting part of a wedding. The bridegroom should go through several examinations where he shows his strengths and wit. If something doesn’t work he buys off with sweets or alcohol. The result of his efforts is a possession of his beloved one. This tradition is very popular even now. Later the young couple goes to a registry office and if they wish to a church, where the bride and the bridegroom are wed, and they put wedding rings on each other’s fingers. At the church’s exit the young couple are dredged with corn wishing prosperity to a new family. Later they proceed to a bride’s home where the event itself takes place which more looks like a real feast.
Any Ukrainian wedding is accompanied with toasts, dances, contests and fun. Almost all festivities continue up to the morning. Here reigns an atmosphere of joy and airiness, as ahead of the young couple is a new stage of their life – happy mutual life.
Many functions during a wedding are performed by a toastmaster who does everything for the guests not only to drink and eat but also are not to be bored. He entertains them by performing various contests, he is a source of various witty sayings and poems and he turns a wedding to a real feast of humor and fun.
The first wedding night takes place at bridegroom’s home on the gaze of guests. In the morning young couple’s bed is exposed to a thorough ‘expertise’, and God forbid they fail to find traces of virginity – the whole young generation will be defamed. If the wedding night ended as it was meant to end festivities continue for some more days.
The second day of the wedding deserves special attention. In Ukraine there exist dozens of customs connected with the second day which differ considerably territorially. For instance, guests who woke up in the morning after, may find out that the way to a toilet or a hall (where one can continue with the feast) is blocked by strangely dressed people demanding money for path. For those who paid they fill a shot of vodka and make them drink it. In some regions days after wedding are called ‘hens’, ‘geese’ and so on – guests go to the wedding carrying some livestock as a snack. There exists a common tradition of riding bridegroom’s and bride’s parents on a cart (or anything, even a carriage). Herewith the most important task is not to let run dry throats of ‘horses’ – relatives and friends willingly put in harness. Such walks usually end with bathing for parents of the married couple. Provided that they can be bathed right and left, from a puddle and a trench to a lake and a river.
All these acts can seem foolish, unnecessary and unacceptable by modern society but one shouldn’t forget that they absorbed wisdom of ancient Ukrainian traditions preserved in the course of hundreds of years and they are full of deep sense and traditional national coloring.