Albanian weddings: the old way

albanian weddings bride

For many people the wedding day is one of the most important and happiest days of their life, as they choose to commit to their “other half” forever. Of course this is not surprising as the wedding is accompanied by a series of happy events, such as dancing, food, family, friends and love.

Especially, in the Balkan region, weddings are accompanied by customs and traditions that in many occasions last until today. Albanian weddings are important events for all those who would attend the feast, but also the preparation, as it lasts for hours and days. Of course, in nowadays several things have changed, but it mostly depends on the region and the family of the couple.

Marriage was not very different from the villages to the cities. However, over time, some traditions changed, such as the arrival of the bride on horse, as after the 1990s, she was brought by taxi to the groom’s house. But let’s catch things from the beginning.

Albanian weddings used to last a week, from one Monday to the next one. Every day the friends and relatives of the couple’s family visited the groom’s house, where the feast took place. Every night they sang and danced. The groom’s mother offered them deserts that she usually made herself.

On Thursday, the bride’s mother-in-law together with the other women of the family from the groom’s side, make chickpea bread (“kulaçe”, as called in Albanian). On Friday the wedding begins. That day, the bride brings her friends to celebrate. On Saturday is the wedding day of the bride and o Sunday it’s the groom’s wedding day. In the beginning, she holds the bread, which it is cut for her at the door of the house. The mother-in-law anoints bride’s hand with honey. This signifies happiness and love, to have a sweet marriage and to have no quarrels between the couple. Then, she takes the bride and leads her to her room. There, the women of the family wait for the bride and dance and sing traditional wedding songs to her. The mother-in-law gives sweets tha she made to the bride. If the bride doesn’t eat the deserts, then it is considered as an insult towards her mother-in-law and the other women would think that something is wrong with the bride or with the couple. Then they help her to wear the wedding dress. After that, they wait for the groomsmen and all together take the bride on a horse to the groom.

The women of the family singing for the bride (albanian wedding)
©Kult Plus The women of the family singing for the bride.

It should be noted that at that time there was a woman who did the consulship and the groom and the bride saw each other for the first time on the wedding day. The bride was taken by the groom with a red veil covering the face. The bride was keeping her face covered with the veil until the first night of the wedding. Of course, after the 1970s – 1980s, the couple could proceed to marry of their own free will, but the traditions were still the same.

The men of the family are taking the bride covered with the veil, at the groom’s house (albanian wedding)
©Java News The men of the family are taking the bride (covered with the veil) at the groom’s house.

After the groom arrives, they anoint his hand with honey. The mother-in-law then puts the ring on the bride’s hand and the bride jokingly throws the bread down, showing this way the reaction towards her future husband. The bride’s brother or another man from the family, has to slap the groom in the face, showing him this way that he has to treat her right.

The brothers accompany the bridegroom to the bride’s house and then the women of the groom’s family arrive and give the bride the dowry and jewelry. The dowry mainly contained sheets, towels, jewelry, pillows, new slippers and a robe. At midnight the girls go home, since they had dinner at the couples house. If the groom’s mother had a brother, he had to accompany the groom when he goes to the bride’s house on the wedding day. The next day the bride is getting dressed with her new robe.

An example of the bride’s dowry in Albanian weddings
©Koha Ditore An example of the bride’s dowry in Albanian weddings.

During the feast, the bride burns a scarf and they pass it around and people dance for her. The bride’s father kisses her on the forehead. The bride was not allowed to sit because it seemed to offend the guests. The feast usually took place at home (in the yard or outside the house). When the bride wakes up, the whole family comes and wishes the bride a happy and a long-life marriage.

Nowadays, the couple usually is getting married in the church (if they’re Christian Orthodox) or at the municipality of their region. The feast takes place in a big restaurant which is decorated especially for the wedding and of course traditional dance follows the festive atmosphere. It’s not rare that the couple and its family might keep the previous traditions alive.

However, Albanian weddings are a very big topic for all the participants, because of all the “necessary” preparations. Unfortunately, speaking of a personal experience, the couple doesn’t seem to enjoy that much and give such attention to this procedure, besides the parents of the both families, especially from the groom’s side. Some traditions have changed, like the burning of the scarf now it’s done by the groom and it shows the burning of the singleness.

In general, this might be a way to follow the traditions, but in the end it’s the couple that it’s getting married and not the rest of the family. Nevertheless, the feast is always pleasant for all and an opportunity for people to get together after a long time.

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