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The matchmaking

In the old years, the unification of two young people in holy matrimony was the result of matchmaking, in which the parents of the bride and groom to be played a secret but decisive role, in contrast to the close relatives of the couple who openly contributed to the matchmaking. According to the matchmaking procedure, once everything was agreed, the father of the groom and never the father of the bride would ask the bride’s parents for their permission on behalf of his son.     

Marriage out of love not only was a rare phenomenon, but on several occasions the parents would actually give promise of marriage without the prospective couple and especially the bride even knowing about it. Sometimes, the promise would even be given before the bride and groom had reached adulthood. As far as the suitable age for marriage was concerned, young ladies had to get married by the time they were 18 years old, while young men by the time they were 20 years old.    

The prenuptial agreement

Once the parents agreed to marry their children and informed them on their decision, they would proceed with the preparation of the prenuptial agreements. The agreement recorded all the movable and immovable property that the parents promised to assign to their children before the wedding ceremony. 

The prenuptial agreement would be signed by both the future couple and their parents in the presence of a church minister who would sign as witness to the agreement. In this way, the agreement became legally valid and any violation gave the affected party the opportunity to withdraw their consent to the wedding. The agreement was signed at the house of the bride.

The engagement ceremony

On the day the prenuptial agreement was signed at the house of the bride, the minister would also bless the engagement. The couple, although engaged, continued to live separately because the bride had to remain a virgin until her wedding day. 

Inviting the wedding guests – Wedding preparations

The wedding ceremony would always take place on a Sunday. Some days before the wedding, special rolls were baked at both the groom’s and the bride’s house so that they could be given as treats while inviting all the fellow-villagers and friends to the wedding.

The invitations to the wedding were given by both families on the Thursday before the Sunday of the wedding. Relatives of the couple would visit all the houses of the village and would spray rosewater while delivering one or two rolls as invitations to the wedding.

On the next day, the Friday before the wedding, the decoration of the bridal chamber and the baking would take place. Additionally, young ladies would hang in various places around the village kitchen towels and embroideries, all handmade by the bride, as well as rolls. The entire movable property of the bride which was a wedding gift from her parents and which included furniture, cooking utensils, sheets and covers would be put on display for everyone to see. On the same day, the women would bake the bread that would be served during the feast following the wedding ceremony.  

On Saturday morning, the men would prepare the meat. More specifically, they would butcher goats, hens and young cows but never pigs because according to a superstition if the newlyweds ate pork they would be led to widowhood. In the afternoon of the same day, relatives and friends of the couple, under the sound of the violin and the lute, would transfer the wooden buckets full of wheat that was going to be used to prepare “resi”, a traditional wedding dish, to the fountain of the village. At the fountain, the wheat would be washed with plenty of water and then, again accompanied by music, it would be taken to the house of the bride. Upon sundown, a dancing party and a feast would begin at the groom’s house that would go on until midnight. However, the bride was not allowed to attend the party.  

The wedding day

As we mentioned earlier, the wedding ceremony was always held on a Sunday. The preparation of the groom and the bride would begin on Sunday afternoon. The preparation of both the bride and groom was accompanied by music and songs. The groom would begin preparing before the bride. The barber of the village would come to shave him before being dressed by his father and best man. The bride would have her hair done by her maid of honour who would then, along with the bride’s mother, help the bride wear her wedding dress.    

After the bride and groom were ready, the maids of honour would proceed with the sewing of the newlyweds’ mattress at their house. It was the mattress in which the newlywed couple would sleep together for the first time. In particular, the maids of honour would sew five red fabric crosses on the sheet, namely one in the middle and four in the corners of the mattress. Next, the groom and relatives of the couple would place money on the mattress and the best men and maids of honour would start dancing while holding the mattress high in the air. Finally, the mattress would be taken in the newlyweds’ bedroom.

The wedding ceremony would always take place on Sunday afternoon at the church of the village and all the villagers used to attend it. The groom would arrive at the church before the bride. During the ceremony, friends of the couple would throw wheat and cottonseeds at them, while the bride would step on the groom while the priest read the relevant subparagraph of the Apostle. Moreover, friends of the groom would slap and hit him at the back as part of an old custom.

After the completion of the ceremony, the newlyweds and their guests would leave the church and march to the couple’s house. More specifically, the children holding the hexapteryga would lead the way followed by the person holding the cross, the priest and the newlywed couple who were in turn followed by the best men, the maids of honour and the rest of the fellow villagers. The route they would follow had to be slightly different from the one they had followed while going to the church to avoid, according to superstition, a second marriage of either the groom or the bride. Outside the newlyweds’ house stood the mother of the bride who waited for the couple to arrive holding an incense boat in her right hand and a plate with some dry holy olive leaves. The priest would bless the censer and next the mother would cense the couple and break the plate on the floor so that the newlyweds could not use it again.   

The newlywed couple had the duty of welcoming their guests. They would stand behind a low table while the villagers congratulated them. The couple would handshake with the guests who in turn wished them health and happiness, while some of them gave them money as a wedding present. Next, a kind of sweet, mostly mosphilla marmalade, was served to the guests and then the parents of the couple would lead them to take their seats for the feast that was going to follow. In particular, every family was offered boiled chicken, potatoes and beetroots served with meat. The adults were also offered the traditional drink “zivania” and wine and everybody would drink form the same glass. After the feast, Cypriot dances and songs continued until midnight.    

The days after the wedding

On Monday afternoon, the villagers would repeat their visit at the newlyweds’ house. A feast would follow to which a new traditional dish called “resi” was added. “Resi” was made from boiled grinded wheat cooked in goat fat.

Shortly after midnight, the celebration would reach its peak with the young couple’s dance. While the groom and bride danced traditional Cypriot dances, their parents, brothers and sisters and the rest of their relatives would interrupt them in order to hang money on their clothes as a wedding present. Next, the groom would dance with his best men, the bride with the maids of honour and finally the couple’s in-laws would stand up and dance. The party would end at around midnight.  

On Tuesday afternoon, a new feast and dancing party would begin at the newlyweds’ house. However, only very close relatives of the couple, as well as the best men and maids of honour would attend that party. Beginning early in the morning, some of the best men, accompanied by music, would visit the hen-houses of all the best men and maids of honour, as well as those of the relatives, in order to take some hens for the feast that was going to follow. Then, they would hang the hens upside down on a horizontal post that was held by two of them.

On the following Sunday, another wedding party called “antigamos” would take place. This time, the party was held at the best men’s houses.  







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