This is Part 2 of a 4-part story on Bulgarian wedding traditions; check out the rest of the story with these links:
Bulgarian wedding traditions are something we, Bulgarians, are very proud of. They are so fascinating, that whenever a foreigner decides to marry a Bulgarian (which happens a lot lately) they are usually enchanted by the beauty and wisdom behind all the customs that take place during a traditional Bulgarian wedding.
Of course, some of these traditions are just reminiscent of the past and more a part of the tradition than obligatory rituals, but many of them are still being followed today to the dismay of all wedding guests. Here are some of the most interesting traditions you may come upon at a Bulgarian wedding:
I am sure that nowadays people who know how to make bread usually come from the developing countries and third-world countries. Making bread in Bulgaria is a process that is considered (almost) sacred so women are still taught how to do it by their mothers and grandmothers. The wedding bread is just as special as any other bread in this reference, but it is considered a very important part of the wedding tradition. There are different kinds of breads that are being baked both in the bride’s and in the groom’s houses. They say these breads have magical powers over the young family’s future so there are usually many symbols used on them (or in them) that, as they say, will help the young family stay together, love each other, and have many happy children.
The Wedding Flag
The wedding flag is another symbol of the young family. It is made at the groom’s house (as the groom is considered the head of the new family). What is interesting about it is that it’s either white or red in color (or a combination of the two colors), similar to the typical Bulgarian martenitsa. The wedding flag is sewn to a tree branch that has to be cut with just one hit as the strength used for the cutting is a symbol of the strength with which the new family will hold on to each other.
Weaving flowers into garlands is a Bulgarian wedding tradition that has no longer been executed as nowadays it is the official church’s crowns that are used during the ceremony. It is, however, one of the oldest Bulgarian wedding traditions, also being the one that has given the name of the Bulgarian word used for wedding, namely, “venchavka”, which comes from the Bulgarian word for garland, “venets”.
It is not accepted to attend a Bulgarian wedding unless you are given a wedding invitation. Even though this tradition comes from the past times when it was the groom and his family, together with the groom’s male friends, who personally invited the wedding guests just a few days before the wedding, it is still considered rude to attend a wedding in Bulgaria if your name is not printed on the wedding invitation. In the past you were not allowed to go to a wedding without being invited even if you were part of the bride’s closest family!
The clothes in which the bride and groom say “I do” also have their traditions and customs. The main colors of the wedding clothes are white and red, the white color being a symbol of pureness, femininity, innocence, and virginity, while the red color symbolizes fire, the man’s beginning, power, strength, and fertility. It was, however not uncommon for the bride to wear a wedding dress in both white and red. As for the veil, it was usually red and had beautiful lace, handmade by the bride’s mother or bigger sister.