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LATVIAN WEDDING TRADITIONS 

To establish a family is one of the most important events in any person’s life, therefore it is still believed that the wedding should be celebrated according to the ancient rituals. In this case the happiness and sustainability of the young couple in future is quaranteed. Wedding can be considered as one of the brightest Latvian rituals as it has survived through the centuries.

Traditionally it is believed that autumn is the best season to celebrate the wedding as the harvest of the year is collected and the main agricultural works are completed, but the best time for selecting the bride is considered to be the spring.

When a young man has chosen his eventual bride he shall visit her family for engagement or for asking her parents and brothers for the hand of his beloved. Receiving a positive answer, they agree on wedding date.

Formerly the wedding was celebrated both in bride’s and groom’s houses and the duration of the celebration varied between three days until entire week.

The wedding procedures include different trials for the young couple. One of the trials ‘gate of honor’ which is erected by the invited or even uninvited guests in the path the young couple must walk.  It was believed that the bigger the gate of honor, the better conjugal life of the couple as the redemptions paid or completed prevent the problems in family.

On their way to a wedding banquet the groom and bride are tested through performing daily housekeeping activities. Usually the groom is required to chop the firewood and the bride is asked to wash a dirty doll. Besides, the groom shall carry the bride over the path of towel with a plate hidden under it. Going over the plate it shall be broken in many pieces. The more pieces the more luck, richness and fertility in the conjugal life.

A particular attention in wedding procedure is paid to the door and the threshold; special protective rituals before entering the house are carried out. The culmination of the traditional wedding is “mičošana” or “tuckering” when the crown of the bride is taken off and the headdress of a wife – a kerchief or a tucker is put on. Afterwards the bride’s crown is put on the head of one of the unmarried female relatives or friends. Sometimes it is done blindfolded, guessing the next couple to be married.

After the tuckering the young couple is accompanied to bed while singing songs – usually the young couple slept in a granary.

Also the awakening of the new couple is ritualized. Normally the husband and wife are awakened by the guests, who try to make noise with drums, voices, pans and cooking pots. Afterwards they wash in the same bowl and wipe in the same towel as well as offer a present to a person bringing the water.

A particular ritual in the wedding was teasing songs sung by the relatives of the bride and ushers – the relatives of the groom. Usually the teasing was started by the best singer and text maker singing a quatrain which was repeated by the others. 

Very important ritual of the wedding is gift giving to all the relatives, gifts offered to the new house, auxiliary buildings and other places further supervised by the new wife.

Each generation adds something to the wedding rituals. Today the notion “traditional wedding” is polysemantic in terms of contents. It contains different meanings from “great fun for the entertainment of young couple and their guests” as well as the “inherited system of customs and rituals intended to prepare the young couple for the marriage” with many diverse variants in between.

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