I’m just about the biggest fan of weddings as you can find; I’ll go to any wedding, anytime, anywhere. What’s not to love about weddings? It’s dancing and great food and drinking and hugging.
But I’d never been to a Greek wedding until last weekend, when my wife and I went to New Jersey for the nuptials of a co-worker of hers and his lovely bride.
It was wildly different from a Jewish wedding, that I can tell you, and pretty different from most other kinds of weddings I’ve attended. First, the ceremony was pretty long, well over an hour.
And the first thing that struck me was that through the entire service, the bride and groom didn’t speak. There were a few times when the priest had them put crowns on each other’s heads, and I think they did put rings on each other’s fingers (we were in the back so I couldn’t see that well), but they literally did not talk to each other.
No “I Do’s”, no vows, nothing. It seemed odd to me, but hey, like I said, it was all new in my world.
The reception was equally eye-opening. The band played a ton of Greek music, of course, but the dancing fascinated me. In the beginning there was what my wife called “a Greek hora,” where the family all held hands and pranced around the dance floor together, for well over a half-hour (Impressive stamina from the older relatives!).
There was also the very-cool zembekiko, where several different men joined the groom in the center of the dance floor, and each one took turns doing a solo dance, coordinating their feet and hands, for a few minutes each.
The really interesting part came when several women who were watching came up and threw dollar bills at them. This is about when I had flashbacks to some strip clubs I’d been to (back in my, ahem, younger days), but I was told by the groom’s relatives that this was tradition, and the money was really tips for the band for playing the music. (If you’re curious, here’s what one looks like)
Some of the groom’s relatives were clearly getting into it, relishing their time in the spotlight.
The food was, of course, fabulous, and the strangers we met were kind and gracious.
It was confusing and strange, but life’s all about new experiences, and this was a really fun one. Hope to go to another Greek wedding again soon.
**Next up today, it’s fairly clear to me that there never will be true peace in the Middle East, and that the best we can hope for is that the Israelis and Palistinians stop killing each other in mass numbers, at some point in the world’s history.
But projects like this give me a little hope; in 2011 a project called “Blood Relations” started the extraordinary effort of bringing together bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families to donate blood which could then be shared to save lives on the opposite side. An Israeli blood bank and an Islamic hospital agreed to accept both the Israeli and Palestinian blood donations.
The project started in 2011, and is now an annual event. It’s a wonderful idea that I hope continues.
**And finally, a little musical interlude. This is an artist called Brushy One String, playing a song called “Chicken in the Corn.”
Amazing what you can do with just one string…