Thursday, 27 June 2013

Planning a Ukrainian Love Match?
No matter who you marry, where and how, wedded partnerships are best forged out of respect, embrace and understanding.  Western wedding traditions are featured everywhere in the media, but how to enhance a partnership ritual with someone of Ukrainian heritage? 

Ukrainian rituals are often ancient, so the symbols, art, clothing, music and ceremony are recognizable, and can contribute to create an extravagantly beautiful marriage memory.  Everything from the courtship, betrothal, preparations, ritual foods, ceremony, wedding feast, the songs and dances, the incantations, and the layers of visual arts focus on the moral and ethnic ideals of Ukrainian people, and their views on the creation of a new family.  Relationships through the ebb and flow of time, shape history. 

A plethora of Ukrainian songs are about courtship.  A ritual exists for each of the betrothal events - which ambitious diasporan Ukrainians typically try to cram into an evening or a weekend!  They start with activities such as Ivana Kupala - which is the eve of  St. John the Baptist day in June/July (closely tied with the summer solstice). Girls weave magical and enchanting wreaths of flowers gathered from the field and forest, carrying the wreaths into the flowing waters of a river.  Releasing the enchanted wreath into the water will entice the correct young man.  Their joyful leaping over the bonfire together starts a cascade of wedding planning.  More ritual songs involve praise for the family, the father, mother, siblings and of course, often humorous ceremonies indicative of their approval or disapproval of the match-making. 

Many ritual and betrothal songs are commonly part of the Ukrainain spring song collections of haiivky, and vesnianky. They are familiar and well loved, often sung and celebrated at summer camp activities everywhere in the Ukrainian diaspora. The Ukrainian Culture Club of Northern California celebrated this way! (maybe you'll recognize Calgarian Ihor Bohdan - Esteemed Artist of Ukraine, and former headliner of Halychany on the video.) Well, someone has this right - a cultural heritage camp for kids and adults!

Bridal garments are a ritual of nostalgia, the stuff of princesses and fairy tales.  While brides may be bombarded by the wedding industry, traditional wreaths, colors and fragrances of flowers can make for a brilliantly unique and beautiful bride.  For an exceptionally beautiful bridal wreath check out Temna Fialka at!krov

An ancient type of bread known as korovai takes the place of a wedding cake in a Ukrainian wedding. Large, rounded and braided, the korovai is decorated with symbols such as love birds or pinecones (whose fertility depends on the heat of a fire), flower, nuts, herbs or coins. Talented korovainytsi traditionally prepare the korovai in the bride's home while singing ritual songs.  The korovai comes to church dressed up in a periwinkle (barvinok) wreath, then to the reception hall as their food of celebration together, and shared with guests.  Of course, today you can purchase a korovai online at

Underlying all of it, these deeply loved Ukrainian traditions carry a sense of the eternal, a spirituality of family which spans history, and enriches the contemprary faith circle, church or temple marriage.  Include one of the Ukrainian traditions, include all of them to celebrate and honor an endearing Ukrainian love match! 



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