Thursday, July 1, 2010

Slovenian Unveiling Wedding Traditions

Alpine valley of Krnica near Kranjska Gora, Sl...

Image above: Alpine valley of Krnica in Triglav National Park, Slovenia via Wikipedia
I once asked Bob Kravos what was the very favorite CD of his. He replied, “Unveiling.”
I must have given him a blank look because a moment later he was explaining to me, “You know, that Slovenian wedding tradition. When the bride's veil is removed...”

It's time for me to admit that I had absolutely no idea what Bob was talking about. Maybe in that moment he had some doubts if I was really born and raised in Slovenia...

Both of my parents came from a small family and all of my cousins are younger than  me. So the only time I was attending fairly traditional wedding was when my uncle Bojan, my dad's younger brother got married. They sure didn't do any unveiling there.

For nine years throughout my grade and high school I was dancing in the folklore group “Pastirci” (Shepherds) and we were actually performing the whole traditional wedding of “Mislinjska dolina” (Mislinja Valley) – and I don't remember any unveiling there either.

It seems to me like this meaningful symbolism of unveiling was only traditional in certain parts of Slovenia, not everywhere. And I have yet to discover, where exactly that was.

Red Carnation Corsage
Photo "Red Carnation Corsage" - courtesy of youyou965

However, red carnation bloom has always been a big part of Slovenian tradition, craft and symbolism. No wonder it also found its way into the folk wedding ceremony and added deep meaning to Slovenian bride's unveiling.

And just like Jewish husbands traditionally break the champagne glass, American brides throw their bouquets,  Italians do their pillow dance - Slovenians used to do the unveiling.

The unveiling ceremony is a reminder for the bride and the groom that a new life awaits them. Carefree days of youth are gone and it's time to accept a new role that includes responsibility and loyalty to each other.

red kathwah..pix by ..kathwah.
Photo courtesy of kathwah

Both families (groom's and bride's) toast to the newlywed couple, wishing them luck and at the same time welcome the intertwining of the two families. Then two melodious and somewhat sad songs are sung during the unveiling:

  • "Slovensko dekle" (Slovenian girl) and
  •  "Sinoči je pela" (Last night she was singing)
The bride's veil is removed and and a red carnation flower is pinned in her hair, symbolizing the transition from maidenhood to married life. At the same time, the white boutonnière of a groom gets replaced with a red carnation.

Photo courtesy of

To Slovenians, marriage has always been a sacred promise. One of the reasons for that was - by being mostly catholics, divorce was not an option. Hence, many bystanders dab their eyes with a tissue during the unveiling ceremony.

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