One of the most memorable days in a person's life is unquestionably the wedding day, whether the wedding is a fancy social event, or a modest one involving only a church or a civil ceremony. With the passage of time, many events are forgotten, but never one's own wedding. Weddings are usually merry and full of rosy expectations for what lies ahead, some of which do come true. Sometimes fate will mercilessly alter our plans, bringing disappointment and painful times, followed by a currently socially acceptable divorce. However, wedding memories stay with us forever. The divorced spouses tend to marry again, this time a partner of a "more suitable disposition". Weddings for financial gains and notoriety also occur, but usually with unhappy consequences. Under such circumstances it is necessary to appear merry, even though the "tears are flowing". Such weddings also took place in Lemkivshchyna, but did not end in divorce. Once married, unfortunately, you lived with the unloved spouse until the end of your life. On this particular theme, Lemkos have an especially rich legacy in their songs.
But let us return to a celebrity wedding, one that is known all over the area, a truly happy wedding, since most of them were. Just as beautiful as the Carpathian nature with its unique Lemko mountains, so unique were at one time our weddings, regardless of whether they took place in a remote region, or as close as in the neighboring village. For example, around Korosno, the ushers held little hatchets and wore turned up hats with a small brim to the wedding ceremony, but this custom did not exist in western Lemkivshchyna. Here an usher had to carry a wooden Cossack sword and a hat with a big crown. In this area carrying decorative hatchets was considered Polish custom ( associated with the Polish "Gorale"), and therefore would never be given serious thought. The bride's maids, during the last years before exile [exiles started in 1945], besides wearing aprons, had to wear embroidered blouses and corsets, which were nicely adorned with beads (this way of dressing, after our exile, became known as the folk style "from Krakow"). The bride's maids and ushers wore many other accessories: tinsel, feathers, and streamers. Only the young people wore white "poviyaky" (ribbon wreaths), adorned with myrtle and periwinkle. At a Lemko wedding the custom of "hirko" ("bitter"), where the newlyweds kiss at the reception table for the enjoyment of the guests did not exist. The only time that the young couple would kiss in public was in the presence of a priest after the church marriage ceremony.
Splendid was the Lemko wedding tradition, with God ever present, with merry singing and harmless fun. It was not until close to the end of the wedding, that somebody in a voice by now hoarse, would out of necessity remind the newly weds: "Vesilya sya kinchyt, beeda sya zachynat - panee mlada plachet zhe yoosh ne vytrymat" ( The wedding is concluding, misfortunes are starting, the missus is weeping that she can not "hold out" any longer ).
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Copyright © 1997 Jon W. Madzelan
This Home Page was created on Sunday, May 11, 1997
Most recent revision Wednesday, January 14, 1998