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Polish wedding traditions
The tradition of weddings in Poland dates back to primeval times. The true Polish wedding lasted a few or even over a dozen of days and this tradition is still kept in some regions.
Even engagement was followed by sumptuous family gathering and celebration. The future groom arrived at the house of his beloved with his parents, witnesses, matchmakers, musicians, and even neighbours. He was welcomed with bread and salt. After the approval and blessing of the father of the beloved the boy handed her the engagement ring and they settled the wedding date and the dowry. The engagement lasted one year, and if the wedding did not take place within this time, the engagement was considered as bygone.
One distinguishes two types of wedding ceremonies in Poland: concordat (combining ecclesiastical and civil ceremony) and civil wedding. After the wedding ceremony the newlyweds get showered with small coins (to ensure a good and prosperous future) or rice (for fertility) by their guests. After the ceremony the sumptuous wedding reception takes place, where the closest family and friends (and in the countryside – even all the inhabitants) are invited. At the entrance to the reception place the newlyweds are welcomed by their parents with bread and salt. Bread symbolizes the prosperity, salt stands for hardship of life the couple will face. After a solemn and lavish wedding dinner the Young Couple opens the reception with their first wedding dance. On the traditional Polish weddings wedding bands play live.
One of the most important elements in the Polish wedding tradition are so called „oczepiny”, which symbolises the transition of the bride from a girls into a married women by taking off her wedding veil. It always takes place at midnight. Today „oczepiny” are rather short and funny entertainments, however in traditional weddings it could take up to an hour. The bride throws her veil to unmarried girls (and the groomwedding throws his tie to the unmarried boys), and the person who catches it will get married within a year.
There is a lot of food, Polish vodka, even a wedding cake at the wedding reception. Guests dance until the dawn, they often sing wedding chants. The next day so called „poprawiny” takes place – guests are invited for dinner and after it the reception, dances and entertainments continue, usually until midnight.