Maria in her traditional wedding kamasha and skirt.

Summer 2000:

In the summer, there's time to enjoy the outdoors while sealing a wedding.

With their window open, the bride's female relatives sing while holding a bottle. Each song is custom written by the singer to tell stories of them together as children, or wish the bride well in the future.










Then, amongst the farming activities of the day, the bride and groom's parties proceed through the center of town.









The men go in for bawdy drinking songs, which they stop every so often to sing high and then low.



The best man carries a bell stick. This is waved about and shook like an ancient fertility rod.


The groom's family must make certain there is enough tuica to give everyone a swig who watches the wedding procession. It's for luck.    







   The tuica runner uses an ancient method for fair division: one for you and one for me... one for you and one for me...




The groom's parents bought the tuica for this wedding five years ago -- it was a good year for plum brandy. It also meant he'd have to find a girl to marry him...   














   After the bride and groom have made their vows to God (not to each other) they hold the gown of the village priest as they circle the altar three times.














Finally!! It's time to Dance!

The communal house has been festooned with ribbons, balloons, and for the traditionally minded, the bright woven rugs and wall hangings extended family keep in their spare rooms for just these occasions.



At 2am they hold the "Money Ceremony." Everyone present must give the bride and groom some money, and they're expected to be generous -- half a month's wages or thereabouts.

And it's no use trying to shirk this responsibility -- as they collect the money, they announce how much each family has given.




After the money and another course of food, dancing can continue.








Shawnee, the town drunk, could not be denied during the festivities. In the wee hours of the morning, he recovers in preparation for more drinking.




After dawn comes, they have the final ceremony of the evening -- the Hat and Scarves.

The groom's family puts an old man's hat on him, which he takes off. They put it back on, and repeat this three times. The young groom doesn't want to be an old man.



Similarly, the young woman doesn't want to be old either. Her family and godparents pile on expensive scarves, and for each one she throws it off. The boy with the bell stick (remember him) catches the scarf on a knife (!!) then puts it on the bell stick and passes it back to the giver, who persists for three tries until yet another scarf rests on the bride's head.




In the end, after partying from 4 o'clock the previous afternoon, families all over the village collapse in bed around 11am. Good thing it's a Sunday.






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