Every country or nation has its wedding tradition that stands out, but have you ever wondered what a typical Armenian wedding looks like and what makes it so unique and fun? The harsinik – which is another name for Armenian wedding – usually begins with a fun tradition and that involves the ‘stealing’ of the bride’s items by the groom’s family. While the bride gets ready for the big event the next day, the relatives of the groom ‘sneak’ into the house to take some items that belongs to the bride. Some members make huge productions of this with music and dancing, while others prefer to take these away unbeknownst to the bride. This tradition represents “the taking away of the flower (the bride)”. However, not to worry, these items are usually returned after the wedding ceremony. Another take on this tradition involves the bride’s shoe stolen by a member of the wedding party and then the bridesmaid and best man having to pay to get it back.
Another fun tradition you might expect at an Armenian wedding involves the breaking of decorated plates. On their wedding day, the bride and groom must step on plates when entering the reception hall, and again when entering their new home. The reason behind this tradition is that it is believed to ward off evil spirits, negative energy and the beginning of a wonderful future for the couple. The shabash is a tradition that involves the tossing of money – usually bills – on the bride and groom while they dance during the reception. This is usually done by friends and relatives and once the couple are done dancing, the money is often given to the DJ or band as a tip.
Ever heard of the dancing napkins? No, these are not puppet shows put during the event, but rather these are colorful napkins given to the wedding guests during the ceremony. At the arrival of the bride and groom, the guests are required to wave the napkins while they dance. The usual colors are green and red which matches what the ribbons the groom wears, but some brides choose to have colors that match the overall wedding theme. Some even sew plastic coins to the napkins for added flair.
In another fun twist to the tossing of the bouquet to the bridesmaid, the Armenian wedding features something else that’s unique and fun, and this is the signing of the bride’s shoes. Before the wedding the bridesmaids – who must all be single – write their names at the bottom of the bride’s right shoe. At the end of the night, the name that’s still visible is believed to be the next to get married.
Last but not least, is the green and red ribbon ceremony. In this tradition, the mother of the groom is allowed to see her son before the wedding. While the bridesmaids hold the groom’s jacket, the mother drapes the ribbons over his vest. The green represents happiness and is pinned from the right shoulder to the left bottom of the vest, while the red – which represents health – is pinned from the left shoulder to the right bottom of the vest. This jacket is then passed around the bride’s family members, while they dance, before groom and bride are reunited.