The traditional Greek Wedding held in my home village of Kritsa, on the Greek island of Crete on 16th August 2015 was a wonderful celebration open to all. Few couples choose this public style of celebration, the last one was seven years ago, so imagine my delight that this one was while we were in Kritsa.
As events were due to start at 4.00 p.m. I wandered down Kritsotopoula Street, to the heart of the village, half an hour before this. The sheer quantity of traditional, predominantly red textiles that hung from almost every balcony transformed the village. The pong of moth balls was pervasive until the throng of bodies wafted it away. Now I understand the origin of the term, roll out the red carpet!
At first the village was eerily quiet, so I made the most of a seat at Aristidis Cafe and watched him hang up a traditional rucksack, before he set out a table with a huge bowl of honey containing almonds and flasks of raki, a local spirit.
Next door, Kostas set out a table with delicious honeycomb from his own bees, and of course raki. Virtually every shop had similar tasty gifts ready to offer people as they passed by.
Then along came the Bridegroom on a small horse with a handful of friends. It was a wonderful close up scene as a grandpa lifted a small boy on the horse as a mascot. Aristidis fed everyone spoonfuls of honey and almonds, washed down with raki, and then they were off to the bridegroom’s traditionally furnished house that was open to the public all day.
A few more people in traditional dress walked by, and this pair made me smile!
After the Groom’s group had passed by, musicians set up in the middle of the street and stayed there for hours. Good job they had lots of raki to keep them going!
How fabulous that this modern Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa, posed for a photo next to the wonderful statue by fellow British resident of Kritsa, Nigel Ratcliffe.
To find details of a novel set in Kritsa just click here.
About 30 minutes later a distant clamour told me the event had really started to get into full swing.
The bridegroom and his men, followed by hundreds of costumed supporters, led the procession towards the couple’s new home. Men carried household items to furnish the house.
Did you notice the white bagpipe in the photo above? Something I’d not seen before.
Meanwhile, round at the bride’s house, she stood in a white cotton shift, serenaded by musicians and singers.
Under the watchful eyes of a cheerful crush of people the bride was ceremoniously dressed in the many layers of clothing that make up the traditional dress.
Here’s the amazingly serene bride with her parents awaiting her groom.
The groom walked ahead of the procession to collect his bride, flanked by his parents and followed by a multitude.
After final ‘negotiations’ inside the bride’s house the happy pair led the procession to the church, followed by their very ‘merry’ retainers!
The crowd at the church was, understandably, too dense for me to push through to take photos.
After the wedding, the new husband and wife led the procession back to their new home where they rested before the next stage in events.
Here’s the happy pair leading the final procession to the school yard for the wedding feast.
Feasting and dancing continued until dawn, I gave up long before that!
This youtube clip captures the day; editing is ‘artistic’ rather than chronological.
If you’d like a chronological insight then view this next film, it was a long day so it’s not surprising that you’ll need more than an hour to watch it.
This was a real wedding, not a staged event, and I’m delighted to have been part of it. Mmmm, I think my next novel might feature a Kritsa wedding!