Rituals, festivals, holidays

Greek Orthodox Wedding Celebration

Christina Fiore

Los Angeles, California

April 22, 2012

Folklore Type: Tradition, Ritual

Informant Bio: Christina is my good friend. She is Greek and Italian. She is a nineteen year old Sophomore a double major in Archaeology and Italian at the University of Southern California. She has been to quite a few of her cousins’ weddings.

Context: We have talked about weddings before just because we have talked about my boyfriend’s sister’s wedding and differences between the different weddings she and I have been to. I have never been to a Greek Orthodox Wedding so I asked her to describe it to me.

Item: So yeah, so basically it’s a typical wedding you have the bride’s side and the groom’s side, such and such. The whole service is done in Greek unless you specifically ask for it otherwise. Except they say it in Greek and then English so you’re basically listening to it twice. And I don’t really know, I mean the service it’s like relatively long. The most important aspects, like they do some stuff with like incense. So there’s that but basically the most important part of a Greek wedding in terms of the service itself is they do this thing with crowns. And the crowns a really big deal so they are really decorative and they can be really pretty. You pick your own crowns they make all different kinds. There’s two crowns that are connected by these strings or whatever. The crowns are fuckin’ expensive. They place one on the bride’s head and one on the groom’s head. Then they walk around the altar like three times with candles and stuff. So that symbolizes their like first steps as a married couple. And then they do the typical like now you may kiss the bride cause you’re married. Blabbity blah. Other than that it’s a typical wedding. The father walks her down the aisle. There is a flower girl. The girls all walk down the aisle. The music is pretty common. Duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh. There is like a greek hymn. There’s two big candles and two medium size candles but I don’t know if that’s the norm or the minimum or something. They will also be super involved and like ornate-ish. Oh! Also there are these two god parents specifically god parents of the wedding. They are called the goombaro and goombara. Basically they take care a lot of the wedding stuff. My mom was my cousin’s god mother for the wedding and like my dad couldn’t be because he couldn’t stand on the altar cause he’s like not Greek. He was kinda exiled. Um, and like that person will hold the string I was talking about between the two crowns. And they do this thing where they switch the two crowns. They are like spiritual guidance person of the wedding. I think the crown switching is just another example that the couple are together. They also drink wine from the same cup or whatever. There are these things called favors which are like candy covered almonds. They are only for weddings and christenings. I don’t know if anyone actually eats them. They’re really hard. They are also really decorated. There aren’t a lot of places where you can get this done. Like there are specific places. And the godparents like pay for all that stuff. That’s why usually it’s a couple that offers to do that because it’s an expensive endeavor. It’s usually a morning or an afternoon wedding. Afterwards you have a reception. At the reception there’s not too much stuff that’s specifically Greek except the music. Once you’re there you pretty much go into traditional Greek party mode. You have the like circle dancing. The Zambekiko, its like slow. It’s called the drunken dance. It’s usually one or two people up at a time and everyone else circles and claps on their knees. There’s the typical plate breaking which doesn’t always happen. It’s really more of an in the moment thing. I have not been to that many things where that has happened. Oh, there is always, you know you are at a Greek party when the men always do this. Like they plan and come prepared with a ton of rolled up one dollar bills. Then when people are dancing they just throw the money. It’s not like a good luck thing. It’s just a celebratory thing. I don’t really know how to explain it. And pretty much always all that money that’s on the floor will pretty much go to the band or dj or whatever.

Informant Analysis: Um, well weddings are always a nice thing because typically Greek families are pretty large so when weddings happen everyone gets to get together where that wouldn’t normally happen. So that’s nice. The wedding is really religiously based. All the Greek party stuff is all about having a good time. It’s really like any normal Greek party not associated with a wedding.

Analysis: A Greek Orthodox Wedding is a religious and seriously joyous affair. It gets the whole, rather large, family involved. It is a time to celebrate. A major theme throughout the ceremony and the party is togetherness. Whether the togetherness is between the new husband and wife or the family in terms of working together to pay for it and put it all together. Even when the men throw the money it all gets put together to help pay for the music. Greek weddings really embody the importance of family and joy within a family that is important in Greek culture.

Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012

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