Classic Celebrations: A Traditional Armenian Wedding
MIR Sales/Client Services Specialist Amy Stidger has lived in Armenia and experienced various wedding traditions there. She recommends that you never pass up the chance to accept an Armenian wedding invitation.
Armenia is a small and mountainous country of peaks and high plateaus cut by river valleys. It was the first to embrace Christianity as a state religion; powerful old stone churches are silhouetted on the hilltops and tucked into the valleys.
This grand history lends itself to faithful observances. For most Armenians, weddings are very formal, joyous occasions full of long-standing traditions staunchly upheld.
Some other interesting wedding customs revolve around the kavor, or godfather. In Armenian culture the kavor is arguably the most important figure in the wedding, except for the bride and groom, of course. He is usually a close friend of the family and is responsible for many of the wedding details, as well as for guiding the couple in their new life as man and wife. He is also one of the first, if not the first, to be toasted at the reception following the church ceremony.
After the gift baskets are handed over, the men drink and make merry while the women help the bride get ready. At some point candy is thrown at the helpers, and one of the bride’s shoes is stolen and must be paid for by someone from the groom’s party, usually the kavor. When the bride is ready, she meets her future husband and they all eat, drink, and toast to the happy couple.
Before anyone can leave the bride’s house for the ceremony, one of her younger male relatives blocks the door with a sword until he is given a coin by the groom’s side. Then everyone lines up in a large, raucous caravan led by a limousine decked out in flowers and banners.
The groom’s mother usually greets the newly married couple at her door by draping lavash (Armenian flatbread) on their shoulders. (Ancient wisdom says that whoever drops bread on the floor will not be a good wife or husband.)
As the new couple enters the house of the groom’s parents, they each break a plate that has been placed on the threshold by the groom’s mother. Once the plates are broken, they are permitted to enter the house and the feasting may begin. Wedding feasts last all night and are often enjoyed by the entire village.
There are more traditions dealing with stolen chickens, doves, bulls, and apples –some more pleasant than others – but I’ll leave the wedding party to their feast.
All in all, Armenians like to have fun, eat, drink, dance, and celebrate life to its fullest. What better venue for that than a wedding, where families and friends gather to celebrate an exciting new life by honoring the traditions of the past?
You can learn about the traditions of Armenia on MIR’s small group tour, Treasures of the South Caucasus.
Or you can travel to Armenia on a custom private journey or one of MIR’s hand-crafted independent travel itineraries:
(Top photo: Love comes to the wedding – or vice versa. Photo credit: Richard Fejfar)
PUBLISHED: June 17, 2015