Occupation: Graduate student
Residence: Pasadena, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/16/13
Primary Language: Russian
Other Language(s): English, French, Czech
My informant is from Lipitsk, Russia. She moved to the United States for graduate studies, and is a graduate student at USC at the age of 33. I collected many superstitions from my informant, and also wedding traditions, using her own wedding as an example. My informant gave me many Russian wedding traditions. My informant is married to a man from the United States. Their wedding was in Russia, with the traditional elements. I asked my informant why she did all of these traditional things and she explained the importance of tradition in Russia. “Tradition is important to the family. There are certain expectations and you do not wan tot upset everyone. The structure is always there, and it works well. Russians are very traditional, it is just the way things are done. At my wedding, I wanted to show my in laws the Russian wedding and show them my culture. The M.C. brings the two families together. Like they have to do this special dance with each side of the family. One tradition is at the wedding receptions where when someone means a word translated to “sour or lemons”, the couple has to kiss.”
I thought this tradition was interesting because at my aunts wedding reception there was karaoke and anytime a song had the word “kiss” in it, a couple had to kiss. My informant told me about an M.C. that is hired to run the wedding. There are many weddings games to play, and the M.C. facilitates bringing the two families together. My informant’s parents in law liked how involved they were able to be, as the groom’s parents.
There is another Russian superstition that says “if it is raining on your wedding day, you will be rich.”
Another tradition that I found especially interesting was that the bride will be “stolen” and the groom must buy her back. This is very similar to my informant from Bangladesh, where the groom’s side of the family had to pay to get in to the reception. Similarly, in Russian tradition, the bride’s shoe is often stolen, just as the groom’s shoes were stolen in the wedding from my informant from Bangladesh. My Russian informant said that the stealing of the shoes symbolizes a “loss of virginity.” It is interesting that these themes of buying back the bride and stealing of shoes come up in countries across the world.