Collection/Background: Lithuanian Wedding tradition: songbook/singing/dancing/pranks
A: “Are there any certain traditions within Lithuanian weddings? Like are there any pranks or things of that sort?”
B: “Oh yeah! So pranks…I guess at each table you have to have a songbook that has a bunch of songs, and one of the events throughout the wedding is that people can choose a song and like during the meal, they can go up to the bride and groom and sing it to them. You usually get a lot of drunk renditions of songs *laughs* but like groups will come up or solos. And there’s also… um this wedding dance that’s done where the bride and groom sit in the middle while the wedding party dance around them with um… with these woven like pieces of fabric — I have one in my room — that they hold and wrap their arms around while dancing so at the end of the dance, the bride and groom are like completely wrapped in these things, and it’s supposed to showcase their unity.”
B: “We should go to a Lithuanian wedding! Maybe I’ll take you to the next one. Also, another prank is that when the bride and groom, before they walk into the venue and then to the tables, all of the wedding party sit in bride and groom’s seats with these hats on. And they pretend to be these random people that took over the wedding basically, and then the bride and groom have to sing to them to get them to move, which is kind of weird.”
B: “So they do that, and the name is like “Čigonai” because I guess in the olden days, they were taken over by the country and so that’s like the group that you kind of make fun of, which sounds kind of bad. *laughs* It’s like the people from the countryside or something.”
Context: It is apparent that music plays a strong role in Lithuanian culture holistically with song and dance frequently included. Further, some of these wedding traditions seem to stem from historical context including submission to another nation. Such references can be found in the attire worn by and actions performed by those who prank the couple. For example, the hat serves as a symbol to indicate the resemblance to the other foreign group. Further, the woven fabric, another folk object, takes on the symbolic meaning of unity.
Interpretation: Practical jokes are common in weddings throughout many cultures. Often, the individual at the expense of the joke is going through a rite of passage. In this case, marriage is the rite of passage, in which the couple is progressing to something greater. Further, the hats worn by the prankers may be an example of “blason populaire” as it draws from a stereotype.