It is the union of two beloved hearts, which beat as one. It binds soul to soul with but a single thought. Yes, the wedding! Actually, a wedding that takes place in Ukraine involves different traditional ceremonies and rites. All weddings should reflect the personality and character of the groom and bride, but the customs and traditions exist. And next comes about one of the most ancient wedding ritual things. It’s all about korovai, traditional wedding bread.
In fact, bread is an important integral part of every celebration, whether it is a fun party or a solemn occasion. Wedding is not an exception. The korovai, a traditional Russian and Ukrainian bread, has great symbolic meaning. It symbolizes unity and oneness, a feeling of intense togetherness. It represents large round bread, traditionally baked from wheat flour. In olden times, the korovai was baked by the entire village as a common gift and as a wish of happiness and support for the newlyweds. A whole series of signs described the height and weight of korovai, and one could predict the future of the newlyweds according to the details of its baking. It was believed that the korovai symbolized the life of the future family. If the wedding bread is beautiful, it means that the life of the newlyweds would be also nice and happy. If the korovai cracked or was sagging while baking, it was considered the symbol of divorce. So the wedding bread was traditionally prepared by special women who dealt with korovai’s baking. They sang traditional songs through the making and wished all goods to the bride and groom. According to the old tradition, the korovai and special small wedding buns (called shyshki, it means pine cones) baked on a Thursday or Friday. The next day the bride and groom used to go for their wedding guests and invited them for the celebration.
There are a lot of traditional rites and symbols to decorate the wedding bread. Usually it decorates with pine cones, doves, berries and ribbons, but one can use such signs as symbolic figurines, such as suns and moons. Two flying birds (usually doves or larks) are to represent the newlyweds, a wreath of periwinkle symbolizes purity and love. A tree of life is to mean the building of a new nest and fertility. The berries of viburnum and whitebeam, red and green ribbons, the figurines of ducks, ripe ears of wheat are also used for decoration.
The wedding bread is used for the ancient rite of welcome wedding greeting ceremony called “Bread and Salt”. When the young couple arrives, they are presented with intricately decorated wedding bread with a salt holder on the top placed on an embroidered towel. The newlyweds are supposed to take a small piece of bread, dip into the salt and eat it. The presence of the wedding bread means the end of the youth period in the life of the bride and groom and the beginning of a new life together.