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a ceremony accompanying an act of marriage. In the early stages of social development—the period of the matrilineal clan—the wedding was a simple ritual. It became elaborate during the patriarchal period, when monogamy and patrilocal residence became established.
The culminating moment in the wedding ceremonies of all peoples is the bride’s passage, usually by vehicle, from the house of the parents to that of the bridegroom. This act represents a woman’s acceptance into a new family and, as a rule, is accompanied by the exchange of gifts, a lavish meal, and festivities. Also taking part in a wedding are the relatives of the bride and groom and others, for example, matchmakers and groomsmen.
Wedding traditions vary widely. Often there is a staged abduction of the bride by the groom and his friends, which is met with the feigned resistance of the bride and her kin. This custom and other such customs reflect that period in the history of marriage when the practice of patrilocal residence was being established and a woman found herself subjected to the authority of her husband and her husband’s family.
In the period of the disintegration of the patriarchy, women were paid for because they were viewed as members of the work
force. The bride-price was known as veno among some European peoples and kalym among Mongolians and Turkic peoples. The “sale” of the bride was often dramatized in the wedding ceremony. The custom of looking over prospective brides was also introduced.
Many wedding rituals are associated with religious or magical beliefs and are supposed to protect the newlyweds from “evil spirits” and illness. In prerevolutionary times in the Caucasus, the mountains of Tadzhikistan, and the area that is now Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast, fire and the hearth (the protector of the home) were worshiped. A woman’s passage from one family to another included her formal leavetaking from the hearth in her husband’s home. At Slavic and Caucasian weddings the newlyweds are showered with grain, flour, hops, nuts, and other foods, a tradition symbolizing abundance and good fortune. Special clothing for the bride, groom, and other participants in a wedding became an important part of the wedding ceremony.
At a certain stage of development, every society has its own traditional wedding ritual, which incorporates all forms of folk art, including dramatizations, music, singing, dancing, and games. In developed religions, the wedding usually combines a religious ceremony with traditional folk rituals, the original meaning of which is often not known.
In a socialist society, weddings are freed from church rites and to a significant extent from outdated rituals associated with religion and superstition. They become celebrations marking the beginning of a new socialist family. In the USSR, the tradition of the solemn registration of marriages in wedding palaces and marriage registration halls has been very popular since the 1960’s.
REFERENCESKagarov, E. “Sostav i proiskhozhdenie svadebnoi obriadnosti.” In Sb. Muzeia antropologii i etnografii, vol. 8. Leningrad, 1929.
Materialy po svad’be i semeino-rodovomu siroiu narodov SSSR. Leningrad, 1926.
Nikol’skii, N. M. Proiskhozhdenie i istoriia belorusskoi svadebnoi obriadnosti. Minsk, 1956.
What does it mean when you dream about a wedding?
The joyous celebration of the uniting of two people in a spiritual contract of love, a wedding in a dream sometimes signifies the inner uniting of aspects of one’s psyche. Alternatively, to dream of a wedding has traditionally come to symbolize something of a dire portent—either downfall or death.