“We in Albania have weddings like before, we have it about 8 days, a long week.”
Me: Maybe a day is too short for a wedding.
“But a week is too long. You get exhausted.”
“Relatives come and stay after midnight, talking, laughing, decorating the house. And each day they meet each other. On Thursday they prepare the mom of the bride, also the groom, each of them into their house. On the wedding week the bride and groom shouldn’t meet each other. On Thursday the moms cook a kind of bread with chickpeas. They use it to have good luck. They cooked it during the night, so the dough rose, and in the morning they put it in the oven to get baked. But they worked it and prepared it during the night. On Thursday the family of the groom goes to the family of the bride to take her clothes, but not the groom himself.”
“On Saturday the family of the bride celebrates the big celebration. Now it’s in restaurants, but before my grandma has told me they took outside all the beds and tables and celebrated in their house, according to the space. In the middle of each village was a building that they used for weddings, death cases, and meetings of government, according to the size and conditions. Before midnight the grooms family comes to celebrate, and they stay only two or three hours, not up to the end. But in the next morning the groom wakes up and shaves his beard with the other guys of the fmaily, and there are some rituals where they slap him on the face and say now he’s grown up enough to have a wife, they joke like this among guys. Among his family, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts uncles, go to the house of the bride and takes her.”
“It depends on the culture; I come from an orthodox tradition so we would go to the church, other go to the mosque. Those who do not celebrate in the faith tradition go to the municipality and afterward to the grooms house. When they go to the house of the groom, there should be a little girl and a little boy. The little boy has a small bottle with wine and some fresh flowers on it. The oldest brother of the groom or a cousin should help the bride to put on the shoes, and also he should put some money in her shoes. And she will say that they are too small and she can’t wear them, and when he puts money in them, then she’ll say that it fits. And while that brides enters the house of the groom the mother of the groom takes some honey and has the bride take some honey through her fingers and put up to the top of the door. That means for the bride to be sweet with the new family like honey. Even though now that new couples live alone, they do it as part of tradition, maybe to respect the mother.”
“And when the bride goes inside the house of the groom, a child should come to take off the shoes, and he or she takes the money. The bride gives to him or her because they helped her to have rest. During that time up to the celebration in the night, but they are waiting on people that are entering and going to wish them well. This is the reason I told you it is exhausting, even though it is very fun. And in the night, before midnight, the family of the bride came also, but they stay only for two or three hours, eating together and dancing together.”
“And near to the morning hours, 3 4 or 4 5 in the morning, it’s almost morning, the groom has to burn a new handkerchief, that means that the singleness is over now. They dance with friends. And on Monday in the morning or after lunchtime, the family of the bride came, and they bring fruits to visit the daughter, but as my grandmother has told me, the meaning of it is another (laughs). But now it has changed. My grandmother has told me that the next day the family of the bride comes to ask, how was the girl. But nowadays it doesn’t happen.”
“Also something else that my grandmother has told me, but it doesnt happen to try family, but it was part of the culture from the beginning, that after the groom sleeps with the bride, he should take the blanket and show to her mother. But it doesn’t happen, when I say that it doesn’t happen to my mom or aunt, it changed many many years ago. It’s something only between the couple and no-one should know it. [This must have been a very ancient custom, as a similar procedure is mentioned in the Hebrew Old Testament. ]
“It was in the beginning when people celebrate in the beginning, they should clean and tidy the house, the aunts and cousins come and stay all week and the mother of the groom and bride should prepare something. Now they give them to us but it’s just part of a kind of tradition. They prepared a new apron for each of the relatives that came to help them, and they all had the same apron. My aunt has given them to Christiana and I even though we helped them, it’s just part of tradiiton. During the week, at the moment that the groom came to take his bride, all the ladies of the family sing traditional songs. On Saturday I think, the girl should wake up early, and has to go to the sources of water to bring fresh water into the house. Sometimes people do it just for fun nowadays, but before it was a tradition.”
Antonella Bogdani, 29, was born and raised in the lovely mountain town of Korce, Albania. She works as a traveling English teacher to students in the surrounding villages, some of which are quite remote.