Wedding Customs
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Ancient Greek weddings were very popular.

Most of the time, girls would marry as young as 12 or 13 years of age.

Preparations for a wedding

Girls

The girls of Ancient Greece would be given away for marriage at a very young age.

As soon as they reached puberty which was around the age of 12 or 13 years old, the girls would be given to a guy for marriage.

The father of the girl would look for a mate for his daughter.

It was important as a Greek daughter to get married and to have a good life.

Ancient Greek Ceremony

The ceremony of weddings in Ancient Greece were made up of three different parts.

For the first part, the girl that was going to be given away in marriage would be taken from her home.  When this happened, it would be called the oikos.

For the second part of the ceremony, the girl would move into her husbands’ home and they would live together with his family.

In the last part, the girl would then be known as a wife and the daughter of her husband’s parents.

She would focus all of her time and thoughts on her husband and his family.

The girl would then be considered to be owned by her husband and was no longer ruled by her father.

When the husband became her new master, this was called kyrios.

All of the ceremonies that took place during this time were based around the girl moving into the home of her husband.

They would have celebrations and festivals to move her and all of her stuff.

This was a very important part of being married.

Ancient Greek Wedding Customs

Wedding Rituals

When the bride went to her new home or oikos, this was called ekdosis or transferring.

Everyone in both families, the family of the girl and the family of the husband would come to these ceremonies and would participate.

The ekdosis was a time where the girl would say goodbye to her own childhood and would be moving into the new house with her husband and his family.

It would take three days for the wedding rituals to complete.

These three days were the three days before the actual wedding, and they were called proaulia.

For a few weeks before the wedding and the proaulia, the bride’s mom and her family and friends would spend as much time with her as they could.

The women would celebrate her and would try to help her prepare for moving into her new home.

Proaulia

Once proaulia came, there would be a huge dinner that was served in the bride’s home.

There would be offerings given such as her favorite toys from her childhood and clothing that was given to the gods.

This ceremony happened so that she could leave being a child and could become a wife.

The offerings to the gods and goddesses were called protelia and she had to make these offerings, or the gods would not take care of her.

Some of the offerings that she would offer besides clothing and toys was locks of her hair, statues, sculptures and more.

Some of the goddesses that she gave offerings to be the goddess Artemins who would help her transition from a child to a bride and Hera who would help her to have a happy marriage.

One of the most important sacrifices was to Aphrodite who would make sure that she would be able to have children.

Greek Wedding on Vase

Wedding Day

The wedding day was called gamos and for the first part of the day, the bride would spend it in a nuptial bath.

There was water that was brought into her from the river and it was put in a vase.

A child would bring the water in and would pour it on the bride so that she would be purified.

After her bath, the bride would dress in a costume that had a veil.

The veil was used to hide her face and would symbolize purity and would not be taken off of her until she was married.

The bride’s mother, relatives, friends and a special helper would help the bride get ready and would prepare food.

Wedding Banquet

The father of the bride and the father of the groom would throw a banquet.

They bride and the groom would give sacrifices to the gods during this banquet and then they would all eat a feast.

Many people would attend the banquet including friends, family and the members of the bride and groom’s family.

Men, women and children were all allowed to attend the event but men and women were not allowed to sit at the same tables.

Entertainment

There would be people that were hired to come in and sing and dance to give entertainment to the bride, groom and all of the people that attended the wedding ceremony.

The songs were important because they words talked about happy marriages and having babies.

Wedding Unveiling

The most important part of the wedding was when the groom would take the veil off of the bride.

In order for the bride to become the groom’s, he would grab her wrist and the father would say “I give this girl to you in front of witnesses so you can create children,” and the groom would act like he was holding the bride prisoner.

This part of the ceremony was sometimes sad for the bride and her family because it was the end of her childhood and meant she would be leaving home.

Bread Basket

The bride would pick a child to hand out bread to the wedding guests.

This child would wear a crown that was made of nuts and thorns.

She would hand out the bread to the guests because this would be a symbol of the bride and groom having a child in the future.

 

Facts About Ancient Greek Wedding Customs:

  • The bride would ride a mule that was pulled by a cart that her husband was driving to her husbands’ home after the wedding.
  • The bride’s mom would wave torches to get rid of evil spirits.
  • People would throw rice at the bride and groom.
  • When the new bride was taken to her new home, she was offered figs, nuts and dates to eat.
  • The bride’s friend would sing songs to her to help her be brave for her new wedded life.
  • The last day of the wedding festivities was called epaulia. Songs were sung and the bride was now considered the mistress of the home.

 

What Did You Learn?

  1. Were weddings important for Ancient Greek families?  Yes!  Weddings were very important for Ancient Greek families.
  2. Who would choose who the girl would marry? The girl’s father would choose who she was going to marry.
  3. How many parts was it before the wedding ceremony was complete? There were three parts, the first was the bride would be ready for marriage, the second was the bride would move from her home and the last part was when she moved into the home of her new husband.
  4. Whose daughter did the bride become after her wedding? The bride would become the daughter of her husband’s mom and dad.
  5. Why would a child carry around bread to the wedding guests? The child would carry around bread to the wedding guests to represent the couple having a child in the future.