The procession of a Jewish wedding has both the bride and groom walk down the aisle accompanied by both sets of parents.
The wedding ceremony takes place under the chupah, which is a canopy on four poles that is sometimes decorated. The chupah symbolized that the bride and groom are creating a home together and that it will always be open to guests. This tradition originates from the Biblical wedding of Abraham and Sarah.
Traditionally the wedding ceremony has two parts. During the first part the bride and groom become betrothed and a blessing is recited over a cup of wine that the bride and groom drink. The second part is the rabbi reading the ketubah (a Jewish wedding contract). Some couples frame their keubah and display it in their home.
Then comes the part most of us think of when we think of a Jewish wedding....the breaking of the glass. The meaning of this tradition has different meanings....one that the marriage will last as long as the glass is broken, the other is a call to remember those who are suffering even in their greatest moment of joy. After the glass is broken all the guests yell, "Mazel Tov!" which means...good luck.
Before the wedding, an engagement ceremony is held. During this time the bride and groom exchange rings and they are blessed and placed on their left hands. Before the wedding, the bride and groom invite their friends to their new house. It is a common tradition that the bride's single friends decorate the couples bed, with candied almonds spread on it. The relatives and guest present money and gifts for the bride and groom to bring luck and fortune.
During the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom are adorned with crowns. While doing so, the crowns are exchanged three times as part of the Greek tradition. The wedding crowns represent glory and honor. These crowns are joined with a silver ribbon and symbolized the union of the couple. The couple wear these crowns till the end of the marriage ceremony. The rings that they were wearing on the left hands are now blessed again and worn on their right hands.
Next comes the ceremonial walk in which the bride and groom walk around the church alter three times..this symbolized the first steps of life as a married couple.
Some traditional beliefs are still followed, like the bride carrying a lump of sugar, so that her married life will remain sweet. The bride may also wear a yellow or red veil that signifies fire, so as to protect her from evil spirits.
Immediately after the ceremony the candied almonds are distributed in odd numbers among the guests. The odd number signifies that the couple are united henceforth as one and cannot be separated.
The wedding dance and reception follow and are a lively event.
Algonquin (Indian) wedding
The bridal couple has four sponsors. Sponsors are older, well respected persons chosen by the bride and groom. The sponsors are to give spiritual and marital guidance to the couple throughout their lifetime. At the ceremony, the sponsors make a commitment to help the couple.
Ceremonies are preferably outside or in a ceremonial lodge or under an arbor. Their commitment is to the Creator, to God. There is no breaking that commitment and no divorce. The Pipe Carrier, the official, makes sure they are well aware of this commitment. If the couple separates and goes their separate way, in the eyes of the Creator, they are still husband and wife.
The bride will wash herself in a body of water (lake, river, ocean, pond) the morning of her union in order to be blessed the the spirit of the Earth.
The wedding is a time of celebration. Everyone is invited by word of mouth. There is no formal invitation. There is feasting , visiting and a giveaway.
Food items for the feast include fry bread, venison, squash, beans, corn, corn soup, potato soup and many desserts. There may also be a wedding cake. The food is placed on a blanket, served buffet style. The food is blessed and the Elders and the official will beat first, then the bride , groom sponsors and other guests. None of the food is wasted. All of the food is either eaten or given away to the Elders.
Algonquin Giveaway....In preparation for the Giveaway, the future bride and groom make (or buy) hundreds of gifts. A gift will be given to each person attending the celebration.
(to be continued)