This is Part 4 of a 4-part story on Bulgarian wedding traditions; check out the other three here:
As we explained in the previous articles related to Bulgarian weddings, the wedding traditions in this small European country are very old and rich. There are traditions that Bulgarians follow before the wedding, at the wedding (on the wedding day) and after the wedding. All these traditions come from very old times when customs were a very important part of the everyday life in Bulgaria.
Here are the most interesting traditions that the newly-wed couple had to follow after their wedding day was over:
Unveiling the bride
This tradition, though very old, is followed even today (with some moderations, of course). In the past it was a ritual that was performed at home, in the garden, or under a blossoming tree. The time it was performed was right before the first wedding night. What’s interesting about this tradition is that the ritual of unveiling didn’t include hands – it was performed using a branch or a rolling pin. During the unveiling the bride had to be facing the sunrise and different blessings were said to her by the best man. Today the unveiling usually takes place at the wedding venue and is performed by the maid of honor, accompanied by a lot of laughter and jokes.
Putting the head-cloth on the bride
After the unveiling, the veil is thrown on the roof of the groom’s house or on a fruit-tree. The bride, however, didn’t have the luxury of showing the beauty of her face and hair for a long time as the next ritual after the unveiling was putting a white head-cloth on her head, hiding her hair and ears. Much looking like a nun’s headwear, the white head-cloth was a piece of clothing that every married woman used to carry till the end of her life. Thankfully for the contemporary Bulgarian women who follow the latest fashion trends today, this tradition is already forgotten and you may only occasionally see very old women wearing head-clothes in small villages scattered around the country.
Getting water from a water source
In the past there was no tap water in Bulgaria, so it was brought (usually by women) to each household from a water source like a spring, a river, or a fountain. The vessels it was carried in were very heavy and were made of copper. On the day after the wedding the new bride was taken to a water source to get water for the groom and his family (it was her first day in the new household). After she brought the water, she had to give it first to her husband and then to all members of his family. This ritual was supposed to help her feel at home and started her role as a housewife in her new extended family.
Having fun after the wedding
According to the tradition, it was forbidden to the newly-wedded couple to work for a few days after the wedding, so they used to visit all of the groom’s relatives during this period. These visits were also connected with the end of “goveene” – this is a belief according to which the bride shouldn’t talk to the groom’s relatives before the wedding and the groom shouldn’t talk to the bride’s relatives before the “I do”. Of course, after the wedding, the communication started, leading to a lot of interesting stories being told between the two families.
After all these rituals were performed, it was considered that the wedding is over and the official married life of the couple used to begin. It included a lot of hard work (connected with agriculture and horticulture), quiet evenings at the table, respect to the old members of the household, and a lot of compromises in the name of successful and happy marriage.