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A wedding was never a simple church ceremony, but it always constituted an important social event in the village in which all residents participated. The activities preceding the wedding, as well as those following the wedding party, lasted for several weeks.


In the old years matchmaking was practically the only way for a wedding to be arranged. In fact, marriage between two youngsters was agreed by both families, whereas sometimes the fathers of the youngsters, being friends or fellow villagers, would even promise to arrange for their children to get married to each other from a very early age and would announce the agreement to the youngsters when the time would come later on in their lives.     

Matchmaking was a very common custom back in the old days. The matchmaker was the person who would undertake the task of inquiring whether both sides and especially that of the young woman were interested in proceeding with the matchmaking. Next, a matchmaking procedure had to be followed. More specifically, when a young man or his parents wanted to ask a young woman to become his wife or daughter in law respectively, they would inform the matchmaker about their decision and she would then visit the other family and inquire about their intentions on the matter. The parents of the prospective bride were the ones who would decide whether the two youngsters could get married or not and they would then announce their decision to their daughter who had no much say in the matter. If the family of the bride responded positively, then the next step was for the prospective groom and his parents to officially ask the bride’s parents for their permission for the wedding to take place, while at the same time issues concerning the dowry were also discussed and agreed on.     

The Completion of the Matchmaking

The godfather, the father and grandfather of the groom would visit the father of the bride and officially ask for his consent for the young man to marry the young woman.

The Betrothal or engagement to be married

The betrothal would take place at the bride’s house in the presence of very close relatives such as the couple’s godparents, their aunts and uncles, their grandparents and their siblings. Also present at the betrothal was the priest of the village, who would in fact compose the prenuptial agreement which would be signed and stamped by both families. That document stated both the dowry that the bride would get from her family, as well as the obligations of the groom and his family. However, greater emphasis was given to the dowry given by the bride’s family which was listed in detail including estates (houses and land), livestock, household utensils, clothing, money and jewellery.   

In the past the construction of the house was the responsibility of the groom. However, later on the custom changed and the father of the bride became responsible for building the house. This was a difficult task which entailed a lot of manual labour as the construction required the builders to collect soil and mix it with straw and water in order to make the brickwork necessary for the building of the house.  

Once the betrothal stage was finished, a feast accompanied by singing and dancing would follow.

Wedding Preparations

The preparations for the wedding would begin about a month before the wedding ceremony. The women would wash the wool of the sheep in a pit and then they would use it to sew the mattress. After washing the wool, they would spread it under the sun to dry.

The duty of inviting guests to the wedding would be performed by the maids of honour, who would go around the village spraying rosewater on every villager. Whoever got sprayed with rosewater was immediately considered an invited guest to the wedding. Apart from rosewater, guests were also offered a candle, some round sesame bread, some crisp bread or even wine which they would carry in a decorated jar.   

The wedding would begin on Saturday and end on Wednesday.

The Saturday of the wedding

On the Saturday of the wedding the women would sew the mattress using the wool they had prepared and the bed cover. First, they would dance holding the bride’s clothing and accessories and then they would use them to decorate the mattress. As for those who knew the accompanying songs, nothing would make them stop singing. The relatives would place money on the mattress and then the best men had to dance while holding the mattress high in the air for quite some time before passing it on to the maids of honour. Shortly before the beginning of the mattress dance, young toddlers used to be rolled over the mattress. In fact, it was believed that the newlyweds would first give birth to a boy if a boy was rolled over and vice versa.

The Sunday of the wedding

Preparing the bride

In the afternoon of the Sunday of the wedding, shortly before the groom and bride were to be taken to the church for the wedding ceremony, the preparation of the bride would take place at her parents’ house. The bride would actually wear her wedding dress and would have her hair done before her parents placed a belt around her waist and blessed her. The duty for the preparation of the bride was assumed by her maids of honour. Once they had finished, her friends and relatives would sing to her accompanied by violin and lute music.

Shaving the groom


At ten in the morning of the wedding day the clothes of the groom used to be moved from his parents’ house to his new house, where he was going to live with his wife. The shaving of the groom would take place at his parents’ house and would include, apart from the shaving, a ceremony during which he would get dressed and get ready for the wedding. More specifically, the barber would shave his face accompanied by violin music, while his best men would comb his hair. The first best man would help him put on his shirt and vest while singing along with the groom’s relatives and friends the relevant couplets or quatrains.

After the wedding ceremony was over, on their way to their new house, the newlyweds would be sprayed with rosewater and blessed by the women neighbours who would smoke them by using a censer. Later on the newlyweds would stay home alone while their friends and relatives continued with the wedding celebrations. 

The Monday of the wedding

On Monday morning, the mother of the bride would butcher a pair of baby pigeons and boil them to make the traditional egg-lemon soup for the newlyweds to drink. The best men would organise a feast and bring presents to the young couple, which most of the times included food such as meat, poultry and other similar products. Moreover, several guests would offer money, clothes or household equipment as a wedding present. These presents, which used to be placed on the newlyweds’ bed, were never given on the day of the wedding, but on the day after the wedding, meaning on Monday. The reason for this was that before receiving any presents the groom had to make sure that the bride was in fact a virgin. If it turned out that she wasn’t, then the marriage would be annulled and there wouldn't be any need for guests to bring any presents.     

On Monday, the bride would wear the so called Monday dress, which was usually a deep blue or black outfit. The dark colour was chosen as an expression of grief on behalf of the bride for losing her virginity and at night the guests and relatives would gather and pin banknotes on the newlyweds’ clothes while the latter were dancing. 

The Tuesday of the wedding

On Tuesday the best men would go around the village and invite the villagers to the evening party. The best men would actually carry a two-metre long wooden post on their shoulders and on it they would hang the hens given to them by the villagers as a reply to the invitation. At night, the maids of honour would cook the chicken at the bride’s house and offer the food to the guests.

The Wednesday of the wedding

On Wednesday, the maids of honour and the female cousins of the bride would knead dough to make the traditional delicacies called “pishies” and they would lay the table while the violinists would leave the house.   

After-wedding party

Sometimes the wedding celebrations would last for a whole week and the wedding would actually end on the Sunday of the following week with the after-wedding party. 

Images: Paintings by Cypriot folk artist, Michael Chr. Kasialou, depicting the customs followed during a traditional wedding. 

« March 2018 »
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