Crowning Glory – The History Behind the Wedding Crown

Note from Ms Polka Dot : If you’ve been studying Polka Dot Bride for awhile, you’ll know I hardly ever, if ever take guest posts. Right now even though, I want to introduce you to the newest Polka Dot Bride group member Ms Gingham. Ms Gingham is our new content manager and is operating with all of our fantastic contributors and editing posts for our specialty titles. So you can discover her in the footer of each and every entry on Polka Dot Groom, Polka Dot Wisdom, Polka Dot Created, Polka Dot Weddings,  and Polka Dot Honeymoons. (pssh If you’d like to register to be a contributor simply click here and she’ll send you a lot more info)

Ms Gingham is the sassiest lady you will meet and often has us bursting into giggles with her commentary. She’s also had us jealous of the amazing traditions of her Greek heritage (it is now on my bucket list to get Ms Gingham to teach me how to Zorba dance and make the greatest saganaki in the globe..two of my favourite things) and therefore recommended &amp written the initial in what will be a lengthy series of posts on multicultural weddings.  Support us give her a wonderfully warm welcome!

Greek Wedding Crowning Glory The History Behind the Wedding Crown

Photo from Athena and Dariusz’s Wedding by Marcus Bell of Studio Impressions

If you are of the Greek Orthodox faith, then a wedding ceremony is a entire different ball game to, say, a civil ceremony in the park. The priest will be chanting a lot, he’ll give you some wine to drink (hooray!) and he’ll put some “crowns” on your heads and make you stroll around a table. At the finish of the ceremony the result is still the very same … you are married. But have you ever wondered what significance the crowns have in the ceremony? I know I have so here it is.

As with a lot of of the church’s ceremonies, the traditions and rituals in a Greek Orthodox wedding service have followed us from Ancient occasions. The crowns that are utilised right now in the modern Greek Orthodox wedding service originate in Ancient Greece and have been carried by way of by the Greek Orthodox church.

A little history … In ancient Greece, the bride would leave her parent’s property in a horse or oxen drawn carriage. She would sit between the groom and the greatest man (the finest man drove the carriage), as they produced their way to the groom’s residence. The bride was dressed in her finest and she had spent the morning indulging in a bathing ritual. In addition to this, the couple wore crowns made from a variety of plants devoted to Aphrodite such as olive branches, vines leaves and lemon blossoms. In other parts of Greece, the crowns were created from Asparagus. The ancient Greeks who followed this custom believed that as Asparagus is grown out of thorns and difficult dirt, therefore the union of the two will develop beauty and fertility.

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There were no photographers in Ancient Greece! The renowned Francois Vase depicts an ancient wedding procession.

There was a bridal procession which accompanied the bridal celebration and all those involved wore the identical crowns. The air was celebratory and jubilant. The complete bridal procession wore white to symbolize purity. Not so significantly the purity of the physique but that of their relationship. Later on, with the arrival of Christianity did the wearing of white come to symbolize virginity. Interestingly, in Ancient Greece, a woman was married at around fifteen whereas a man was about thirty as this was the age that he would have completed his military service. To think that in these days you could be thrown in jail for this!

In the Byzantine (9th – 13th century), the crowns became symbols of royalty. The ceremony of marriage became a coronation service and so the tradition stands right now.

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Byzantine wedding crowns. Image from the Byzantine Museum

Right now the crowns are frequently made of silver or gold. They are a sign of the bond amongst the Bride and Groom and represent the glory and honour which God bestows upon the couple who have observed His Commandments. The couple is crowned as King and Queen of their new family and ordered to rule with justice and integrity. The priest places the crowns (which are tied with each other by a extended ribbon) on the heads of the bride and groom and the “koumbaro” or very best man exchanges the crowns three occasions.

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Modern Greek wedding “stefana” (crowns). Crowns by Lena Septembri

Yet another considerable moment in the Greek Wedding Ceremony is the removal of the crowns. In the past, the bride and groom were essential to put on their crowns for a full week right after the ceremony and then return for the removal in a various ceremony. That could prove to be interesting on the honeymoon … fortunately we are not essential to do this in Modern day ceremonies!

Greek Wedding Crowns Crowning Glory The History Behind the Wedding Crown

Photo from Athena and Dariusz’s Wedding by Marcus Bell of Studio Impressions

The Greek Orthodox faith is rich in rituals, customs and ceremonies which brings a really distinct really feel and essence to the wedding ceremony. So there you have it! A short history of the significance of the Crown in the Greek Orthodox wedding service. So next time you’re invited to a Greek wedding, you can astound the tiny old women at the wedding with your expertise of their culture. Maybe they’ll make you some baklava in return!

References: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia

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Want More? Check Out These Posts:

  1. Athena and Dariusz’s Sophisticated Brisbane Wedding
  2. Julie and Paul
  3. Nadi and Spiro

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