Rusyn Marital Customs and Superstitions - Part 2

©1995 by: GCU Honorary Editor, Michael Roman K.S.G.G.

Photo Courtesy of Greek Catholic Union of America

The Farewell Episode

One of the ushers loudly proclaimed: "Father, mother, family and relatives: Please sit down at the table." The parents appeared and sat at the table. A bridesmaid then led the singing of the following Rusyn song:

"Oj prijdi, rodino, I uvidi svojeho syna

Bo 'mu priblizhajetsja posl'idna hodina,

Ne bude sja zvati vecej parobochok,

Bo on podarujet miloj svoj vinochok."

A translation of the Rusyn song is as follows:

"Oh come, family, to see your beloved son

For whom approaches the farewell hour,

No longer shall he be called a swain,

Because he will give a wreath to his sweetheart."

After the rendition of this song, the "starosta" requested the parents to bless their kneeling son. Having received the parental blessing, the groom embraced and kissed them. And he did the same with all present. The mother and sisters started to cry. The sobbing brought about the rendition of the following Rusyn song:

"Oj ne plach mamochko, a t'išisja tomu:

Privede ti synochok l'udinu do domu.

L'udinu do domu tebji robotnicu

A serdcu mojemu pomochnicu."

A literal translation of the above Rusyn song is as follows:

"Oh mother, don't cry, but be happy

Your dear son will bring a person into your home.

A person to your home, a worker for you

And for my heart a dear helpmate."

After the farewells had been made, the wedding procession lined up to go top the bride's home. However, before the departure, the groom's mother blessed him and the group with holy water and encircled them three times. She did this to signify a happy journey. Singing merrily along the way, the procession soon reached the bride's home.

The standard-bearer headed the procession, proudly holding the banner which the bridesmaids made for him. Behind him came the groom and his ushers, "svaški" and young people. Also present were the musicians. All the way to the bride's home, they sang the Rusyn song: "Mam frajirku!"

The following is an English translation of the Rusyn song "Mam frajirku."

"A sweetheart I have who will tell me what to do

I will embrace and kiss her on a wayside road,

On a strewn road the cop won't halt me

And the burgess won't stop us, so we will smooch."

When the procession came close to the bride's home, the young people stopped singing, and the bridesmaids began another song:

"We're proceeding farther and where we will stop

In Pipnak's landed estate where Maria waits for us."

But something unexpected happened when the procession reached the bride's home. The door was locked and could not be opened, thus causing the "starosta" to knock three times on the door and loudly inform those inside: "Highly respected people: we are searching for someone who has been lost and the trail leads to this home."

The "starosta" implied that the procession had come to get the bride. From the inside came the reply: "Only the devil might know who you are!" Maybe you are robbers and it would be risky to let you inside. Show us some identification and tell us why you came here."

The elder leader of the procession - the "starosta" - took the banner from the standard-bearer and said: "This is the evidence which brought us here. It is similar to the 'Star of Bethlehem' which led the three Wise Men to Jesus in the manger." After a continued debate an agreement was finally reached concerning the amount of whiskey which was to be brought inside, the procession was permitted to go into the bride's home. Once inside, the "starosta" and the groom continued looking for the "lost person", while the questioning continued. Finally, the matron of honor was brought in to be recognized by the groom. He was unable to "recognize" her and made vehement denials that she was not the "lost person". The matron of honor then went to the side of the best man while the fiddlers played some marital music. The same procedure was followed in the pairing of the ushers and bridesmaids. Then everyone waited for the arrival of the 'lost person', for they knew that the bride would soon enter. When she was brought in, the groom quickly hurried to meet his "lost person" - the bride in a beautiful white gown with a special wreath atop her head. Before the wedding procession started on its way to church, the bride and groom received the parental blessings.

(Writers note: Sometimes the "starosta" would say "lost fox" instead of "lost person")

It was a singing procession, led by the fiddlers, going on its way to church for the marriage ritual. The following Rusyn verses were sung:

Koli totu fijalochku sijali,

Tohdy my sja l'ubovati pochali;

Ale tota fijalochka ne zyšla,

Uzh sja naša virna l'ubov rozyšla."

"Plachte, ochki plachte,

Slezy vybivajte;

Koho 'ste l'ubili

Vzhe bol'še ne majete."

The above two verses, freely translated into English are:

When that violet seed was placed in the ground,

A love for each other you and I found;

But that violet did not bloom

And our faithful love ended in gloom."

Oh cry, my eyes, do cry,

With tears over your face;

The one who had your love,

Is not in your heart's place."

When the wedding procession approached, the parish rectory, the bridesmaids began singing again:

"Pan Otche, vstavajte,

Zasj zarobok mate,

Zvinchajete novu paru

Kotra otdast Bohu chvalu."

"Dear Father, be ready,

To benefit again,

As you marry this new couple,

Whose praise to God will be given."

After the wedding ceremony was solemnized by the pastor, the procession left the church and went merrily on its way to the bride's home. Upon reaching their destination the wedding party - at least most of it - sat at a table and ate and drank as they continued singing happily. When night approached the group began preparations for the bride's leave-taking from her parents. In front of the home was a carriage in which a hope chest, cushions, etc. Were placed.

After the bride had made her leave-taking from the parents, she and the groom and a part of the procession went into the carriage and headed for the groom's home.

There the bride was met with salt and bread, a symbol of cordial hospitality among the Rusyns. Immediately she was taken into a cool room where spices, seasoned vegetables, etc. Were kept. On her head a nightcap was placed.

Once again the wedding party began their happy singing with the following Rusyn song:

"Vecherom byla d'lvka

V zelenom vinochku,

A dnes' jem zhena

V burim cipochku."

This is the literal English version of the above song:

"Last night I was a maiden,

Wearing a green garland,

But today I'm a lady,

With a grayish nightcap."

After the above song was rendered, the matron of honor and the bridesmaids led the bride from the cool room to the main room where the bridal dance began. It was then the matron of honor began repeatedly singing "Nasa mlada kral'ovna" - "Our Young Queen". Everyone present had to dance with the bride.

As soon as the bridal dance ended, the bride was placed on a table and was given a baby to hold and then a little boy was held. This symbolized that it was the desire of the new household to have a baby boy first.

The musicians continued to play and play, and the harmonious melodies which were heard in the fields by the shepherds, partially awake, thus receiving the glad tidings that the Carpatho-Rusyns were ending the celebration of another traditional wedding.

(Note: When there was a general wedding reception, the invitations were personally made by the ushers or the newlyweds. A general reception was held on the following day or days. This writer has heard where wedding celebrations last a few days sometimes.)

Return To Table of Contents