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Marriage has its own history in Cyprus. Many years ago, the most common way to get married was through match-making. The proposal was made by the groom’s family, and it was considered demeaning if it was made by the family of the bride. The match-making “season” was during Carnival and in the week before Lent.
Weddings were usually held on Sunday. However, the actual wedding ceremony starts usually on previous Thursday with the bride’s friends helping her with the stuffing of the bridal mattress with hair. The mattress was then sewed and four crosses and four bells were placed at the mattress’s corners so that “the bride and groom will sleep the sleep of the blessed”.
On Saturday, seven of the bride’s friends will fill their baskets with corn and, having washed it, will take it to the bride’s house to prepare the wedding’s meal, or Resi, which is made of boiled corn and lamb.
On the Sunday, the dressing of the bride begins at noon time. Her clothes are brought to her in baskets by her friends, while outside, the violinists will be playing “The dance of the clothes” at the end of which the dressing of the bride will begin in earnest.
Partying, with music and dancing, starts then. The bride and groom will dance the well known “The dance of the married couple” while the wedding guests will pin banknotes to the couple’s garments which was the habit of making gifts to the newly weds.
Most things happen in threes, this is to represent the God , the Son and the Holy Spirit .
The Service of Betrothal The priest starts by blessing the rings and the couple. The reason the rings are placed on the right hand is because it is the right hand of God that blesses, and to which Christ ascended.
The bride and groom wear headbands called stefana , the Koumbaro or Koumbara also plays a part by interchanging the crowns on the couples heads. These along with the wedding rings, which are worn on the right hand, forth finger and are exchanged three times. In traditional Greek Cypriot weddings wreaths were made with olive tree branches because of the belief that through this wreath God's blessings were transmitted to the couple.
They drink from the common cup three times, followed by the reading of the Epistle and the Gospel. The Gospel reading describes the marriage of Cana at Galilee, which was blessed by Christ and where he performed his first miracle. Converted water into wine.
The Priest will lead the couple round the table table 3 times on which are placed the Gospel and the Cross. The Koumbaro or Koumbara walks behind the married couple holding the Stefana in place. Often called the dance of Isaiah.
The priest blesses the couple. The priest then removes the crowns and asks God to grant the couple a long, happy life together. He then separates the couples joined hands, reminding them that only God can separate the couple from one another. This concludes the ceremony and the Bride and Groom are officially married.
During the service the priest will say "woman shall fear her husband" (but in Greek) the first one, bride or groom to put their foot on top of the others will run the house, that is the theory, the truth might be somewhat different. Some nifty footwork can be witnessed at this moment
On leaving the church you will be presented with koufetta , (the Greek name for Jordan almonds) sugared Almonds, a small bag containing an odd number of almonds, an odd number can not be divided up, showing the unity of the couple.