« PoprzedniaDalej »
MODERN GREEK CUSTOMS.
A WEDDING IN THE UPPER CIRCLES.
genuine Albanian dress, comprising your
free and easy people, who wish to pass A
for the most independent class of society, very different celebration from one and scorn to adopt the continually changin the country. In the former we find
There were not wanting a that there is exhibited somewhat of Euro considerable number of pretty faces among pean civilization and cultivation; while the ladies (who, according to the common the influence of foreign customs has not practice, congregated on one side of the yet penetrated into the remote villages. room); but it was a beauty consisting There men are married, as well as bap rather in freshness of colour, and a good tized and buried, according to the good healthy look, than in delicacy of feature. old traditionary forms of their ancestors. If, however, rumor tells true, some of the And yet there have been preserved, even tints are borrowed; and the belle of the in the city, so many characteristic pecu ball-room makes but a sorry figure the liarities, that they appear novel and inter next morning. All the tight lacing in the esting to a stranger. I was, therefore, world could not give an Athenian damsel very much pleased to receive one day an the wasp-like contour of figure, which is invitation to the wedding of a young the admiration of all your French dressGreek couple, which was to take place a makers and misses in their teens. Disfew evenings later.
guise it as they may, there is a tendency The ceremony is generally performed to the en bon point among the ladies, in the house of the bridegroom, though in many of whom waddle about with a grace some provinces the parish church is re which would have seemed charming in the sorted to. But in this respect, as in most eyes of our worthy Dutch progenitors. The others, each petty district has its own men, on the other hand, are a lean, lank customs, as immutable as the laws of the
race, whose dark-complexioned faces acMedes and Persians. We went at an quire an additional touch of ferocity from early hour to the house of the evening's the formidable moustaches they wear, and festivities. It was a mansion of the old which, when their hands are not otherstyle, all of stone and stucco, and faced wise employed, they may be seen twirling one of the narrow streets that abound in by the hour. the more ancient part of the town. A The company were all assembled, and crowd of the lower classes, who, though on the tiptoe of expectation, when the they were not among the invited, made bridegroom and bride entered, and took bold to collect in force about the door, their stand at the further extremity of the seemed to preclude all entrance. A small room.
Each of them held a long lighted company, some distance down the street, waxen taper, and the groomsman and were keeping up their spirits with frequent bridesmaid carried similar ones. The potations; and ma
merry with the
bride, arrayed in a white satin dress, music of a stringed instrument, whose covered with lace, and having for a headnotes grated harshly on our ears. It was dress a wreath of flowers, from behind ever and anon interrupted by the jocose which a long white veil hung down over comments which the party uttered upon her shoulders, looked charming, -as what the appearance of the guests, as they suc bride does not? She bore the classic name cessively came into the light cast by a of Athená. The bridegroom was dressed flaining torch set in a convenient position. in Frank costume. When we had succeeded in working our The priests came in at the same time way up the thronged staircase, we found with the couple, ---or, more properly, there some sixty or cighty persons already con were present at the commencement of the gregated in the inoderately large parlor, service two priests, with a deacon and a which, though it seemed rather bare of young man who read the responses, and ornament and furniture to one who, like corresponded to the enfant de chxur of myself, had come from the West, had the Latin Church. some pretensions in common with the There are two distinct services in the drawing-rooms of Paris and London. The Greek Church pertaining to this cereassembled company, composed, as usual, mony; and the rite of marriage cannot of a much greater proportion of ladies take place, unless the parties have been than gentlemen, were mostly dressed in previously betrothed. Sometimes, howthe last style of Parisian fashions. Yet ever, as in this instance, the one service there was a sprinkling of gentlemen in the takes place immediately before the other.
The liturgy was read by one of the priests the wreaths, and touching it to the forehead from an elegantly bound service book. In of the bridegroom, and afterwards to that one part of the ceremony he stopped, and, of the bride, made with it the sign of the taking up a ring from the small table, on cross between the couple. This he thrice which were deposited the various utensils repeated, while at the same time, he recited which the deacon had brought in, he the words which follow: - Thou, the serthrice made the sign of the cross over vant of the Lord. Gregory, art crowned the book. Then he touched it to the (or married) to the servant of the Lord, forehead of the bridegroom, and to that Athená, in the name of the Father, and of of the bride. Last of all he placed it suc the Son, anıl of the IIoly Ghost.” HIe then cessively upon the finger, first of one and crowned the bridegroom with this wreath; then of the other, after divers crossings and with the other performed the same performed in the air.
ceremony with the bride. Later the When the parties were thus lawfully groomsman, who is usually the godfather, betrothed, there was a short pause, and or nonnos, of the bridegroom, and is erthen the bishop, whom the relatives had pected to be hereditary sponsor, exchanged invited to officiate in order to give more the two wreaths, and then replaced them brilliancy to the wedding, entered the on the heads of the couple. A cup was room, and the priests hastened to do him then handed by the bishop, first to the homage. He is usually dressed in the man, and then to the woman; and each ordinary episcopal costume, wearing his of them drank a portion of the wine it black cloak and gown, and the clerical contained. This very pretty ceremony cap, over which a black veil hangs down was symbolical of the obligation, which behind, as a distinguishing mark of his both parties enter into, to participate office. But on this occasion his head was equally in all the pleasures and sufferings covered with a crown, and he carried a of life, in its joys and its surrows. I had heavy silver crozier, such as is only to be heard it stated that a bitter ingredient is seen in the Greek Church-Roman Catho mingled with the wine, typical of life's lic bishops rarely appearing in public with vicissitudes. But those of whom I init. The handsome dresses of the priests quired, assured me that nothing of the added to the singularity of the scene. kind is customary. It was singular that, The bishop now took the principal part in with so affecting an inciilent, there should the services, reading from a book covered be closely connected another of a ludicrous with a solid silver binding, which one of character. The bishop took the hand of the priests held before him. Whenever the priest; he in turn grasped that of the he found it necessary to lay aside his cro deacon; and so, with the married couple, zier, one of the attendant ecclesiastics the singers and all, a string was made, took it, at the same time kissing his supe which the chiet ecclesiastic led around the rior's hand. And when he resumed it table in the centre of the room. The the same ceremony was repeated, to the whole resembled in a ludicrous manner, no small disgust of those of us who were some of those games which the children not accustomed to such abject servility. play in America. The service was a long one; and we be With this the service came to an end, to came quite tired of it; for it consisted the satisfaction of every one present. chiefly of prayers, which were hurried While the priests retired, all pressed through, and of passages of Seripture around the bridegroom and bridle to offer mumbled in such a manner as to be congratulations, some formal, and others quite unintelligible. Some portions of the aftectionate. The company remained but written form are, in themselves, so utterly
a few moments more. A servant came senseless, that no one has the least idea of bringing in a large tray, covered with what they mean.
candies: and cach guest was expected The great and essential part of the rite to help himself plentifully to them, and was the crowning of the couple. The to carry some home. A few seemed to crowns were, in this case, merely wreaths measure their kind feelings to the couof artificial flowers, numbers of which ple, by the quantity which they heaped tomay be seen in the shops every day. The gether. Judging by this criterion, their groomsman held one over the head of the benevolent feelings were not small. Ono bridegroom, and the bridesmaid held a or two drew forth their handkerchiefs, similar one over the bride's head, during and carried them away full. After which the whole time; and they appeared quito the company began to disperse, and I folweary before the conclusion of the cere lowed the general examplo. mony was reached. At last, when the It struck me as a very singular circumproper time came, the bishop took one of
stance, that during the entire service which
MARRIAGE AMONG THE LOWER ORDERS
I had been listening to, not a single re for a long time, he found himself utterly sponse had been made by the couple, nor unable to persuade her to leave the man had the consent of the parties been ex whom be had compelled her to wed.* pressed, or any promise exacted of them. In fact, the bridegroom may arrange the whole matter with the parents or guardians of the lady, without her knowledge, The customs which characterize any and even against her will. And let not country are to be found in their purity, any one suppose that such a thing, though only in those remote' portions, into which sanctioned by law, never actually occurs the manners of other lands have not as in practice. We assure them that such yet penetrated. The increasing facilities things do happen, and not unfrequently of intercommunication, while they ameeither. A case of this kind was related liorate the condition of the poor, so far as to me, as having taken place not long inere material interests are affected, desince at Smyrna, which was so romantic in stroy in Greece, as well as in Switzerland, its details, that it might have formed the those striking contrasts in the mode of plot of a tale of no ordinary interest. A living, which excite the curiosity of the wealthy inhabitant of that city, an old stranger. The American, walking the Greek subject, had an only daughter, streets of Athens, hears at every turn the named Theodosia, whose hand had been cry of the peddler, who, under the name of sought, and whose affections had been pania Americanica," lawks the fabrics gained by a respectable young English of the Lowell mills; and the Grecian resident of the place. But the father was mother finds it cheaper to clothe her too proud to let his daughter marry a daughters in them, than to occupy her foreigner, and a heretic, too ; and he com leisure hours at the loom. manded her to think no more of him. As In the secluded villages, the ceremony an offset, he promised his daughter in of marriage, which in the capital has bemarriage to a boorish Greek from the come gradually assimilated more and more East. But, it is well known, the affec to the stereotyped form of other countries, tions are sometimes most unreasonably includes a number of ancient customs, stubborn; and the young lady preferred Every petty hamlet, or, at least, every an elopement to remaining with her small district, possesses some of its own, parents, under such circumstances. A which entirely regulate the performance rendezvous was fixed upon by the two the ceremony, and which none of even lovers; but, unfortunately, there was a the more polished citizens attempt to misunderstanding as to the spot, and abrogate. It would, therefore, be quite Theodosia, after waiting for hours at the a hopeless task to describe all the differplace agreed upon, was finally discovered ent modes; and the customs prevailing in and brought back to her father's house. the province of Maina, at the southerly Threats, and even chastisement, were em extremity of the country, may be taken ployed, ineffectually, with the hope of as a fair specimen of the rest. The wedgaining her consent. Notwithstanding ding has long since been projected, and this a day was appointed for the nuptials, after having been fully discussed in family the priests were called in to perform the council, on either side, the connection has rite, and the young girl was brought into been approved, and the time for its conthe room by main force. While the ser summation determined by all the nearest vice was being read Theodosia fainted, and relatives of the interested parties. For the priests stopped until she recovered her such a thing as a clandestine marriage, or senses, when they proceeded ; and she one celebrated without the authorization was wedded to a man whom she loathed. of friends, is almost unbeard of. Whoever These circumstances may appear the more should marry a young lady, without first remarkable, from the fact, that at this asking the consent of even her third time the young lady was nineteen or cousins, would, in Maina, inevitably draw twenty years of age. So inauspicious a upon himself their fiercest animosity; and marriage was not likely to prove a fortu cause an irremediable breach, which would nate union. It was not long before the sooner or later end in revenge and bloodwife was forced to be separated from her shed. We have even heard mentioned husband, who had treated her in the most the instance of a young man, who eloped cruel manner.
Her father became the with a girl of his acquaintance, and who strenuous advocate of this measure; but after forty years had passed, and he
* This is the story, as related by one who had been a neighbor and acquaintance of the parties; and it was confirmed by some esteemed Athenian friends.
was surrounded by grown-up sons and wrapped up, as he is, in a huge capote, or daughters, fell a victim to the unrelenting shaggy coat, by the side of the fire, kindled hatred of those whom he had so long since on a stone hearth, in the middle of the offended. *
Meanwhile the family occupy, The first preparations commence a week perhaps, a small inclosed space at one of beforehand, and as the ceremony occurs the ends of the house, to which access is on Sunday, these take place on the same gained by a ladder of two or three steps. day of the week. The bridegroom and I am alluding here, of course, only to the his intended father-in-law each invite their babitations of the lower and poorer class, friends to their houses. If they live in which occasion may, perhaps be taken at the same village, this is accomplished in a future time, to describe more fully. person; but if they live too far off for Even in retired districts, one occasionally that, the invitation is equally well under finds a house with much greater preten stood, on the reception of a small cake, sions to comfortable arrangement. which in these regions takes the place of About midnight, another set of men are the gilt and crested envelope, and the ** At dispatched from the bridegroom's house. home,” card of our more refined countries. They carry a complete attire for the bride, Upon its reception, every one is in duty who is dressed up in it immediately. bound to go the same day to the house to Then, on Sunday morning, at about three which he is bidden, where a convivial or four o'clock, the bridegroom proceeds party is thus assembled. Their occupa thither in person, accompanied by a few tion for the afternoon consists in cleansing, of his more intimate friends. And now and sometimes grinding, the wheat, though the marriage ceremony, that is the stephan this latter operation is often deferred for noma, or crowning takes place in the a day or two. While performing these presence of all. The parish priest, who offices of friendship, the company enliven has been called to quit his slumbers at their labors by singing various songs, for this early hour, officiates. l'pon the con the most part curious and characteristic; clusion of the service, the priest retires to few of which have ever yet been collected his home, and so does the bridegroom, in a permanent form.
leaving his lady behind at her father's The remainder of the week is spent in house. But at perhaps nine o'clock, in a quiet manner, and it is not until the broad daylight, he proceeds on horseback, ensuing Saturday, that the same parties and attended by all his friends, to claim reassemble at the house of bridegroom or and carry home his newly married wife, bride, as the case may be : for no one is By his side walk two of his nearest female invited to both places. The bridegroom, relatives, on his father's and mother's who, according to the custom of the dis side. When the procession reaches the trict, bears all the expenses, has previously house, the bridegroom must not enter, but agreed to provide a stipulated number of must stop in some part of the court, where rams or sheep, which are never less than the guests of the bride's father come each three, and rarely exceed a dozen. These to greet him. First, his mother-in-law he now sends to the house of his intended embraces him, at the same time placing father-in-law, and with them, three times about his neck a silk handkerchief, as a as many loaves as there are sheep, and gist. All the women follow her example, three times as many okes of wine* as there and place a like present on his shoulders; are loaves of bread. The men who are so that, before they get through, he will dispatched with these gifts—which are find himself loaded with a pile of handkerintended for immediate consumption, are chiefs. These, of course, he does not wish oxpected to be entertained and lodged at to keep, and within a few days disposes the house of the bride, for the night. Such of them, without compunction, by sale. an addition to the household might, in As the custom is universal in the region, deed, disturb an American housekeeper. it becomes merely a matter of exchange, But as beds are an unknown, or unusual for every one receives in the end about as commodity, as far as the greater part of much as he gives. And now the bridethe population are concerned, even a large groom and his friends may enter the house, number of guests can easily be admitted. where they are generously entertained, and Provided the Greek peasant finds plenty conviviality reigns awhile. to cat, and especially to drink, he lays But now this must end. The father himself down in perfect contentment, takes his daughter, and committing her to
This story is embodied in one of thoso pathotic marrologia, or laments, which aro repeated over the tombs of the deceasod. In this poctic history, the leading ovents of the man's life are related in considerable detail. Many persons have acquired a singular reputation for their skill in composing them.
+ Wine and oil aro in Greece measured by weight, and an oke is nearly equal to threo of our pounds.
her husband's care, gives him such advice and exhortation as he thinks proper. Then leading them both into the court, he makes them tread on some firm stone; which form, if it has any meaning at all, (as, with regard to many of the more trifling particulars of such ceremonies as these, seems rather improbable), is intended to convey the idea of the unanimity necessary to both parties. The parents now take leave of their daughter, and the friends accompany the newly married couple to their home. The guests of the bridegroom divert themselves as they go, by singing songs, possessing, in truth, little poetical merit, but lively enough ; in which they represent themselves as having “robbed a village, and despoiled a country, to carry off the bride, whose praises thousands sing.” This nettles the friends of the bride's father, who retort upon them by wishing, “ May the bride shine upon you like the moon, and illuminate you as the sun. May she trample you under foot like the earth; and be in no way dependent upon you for aught.”.
The ceremony which took place at the father's, is now repeated at that of the bridegroom; and the bride is not permitted to enter her new home, before her husband's friends have all pressed around her to shower presents upon her, consisting of various little commodities, or of money. All the assembled company follow the couple into the house, and after a few unimportant forms, they sit down to a collation, with which the entire ceremonial comes to an end.
Those who are acquainted with the customs of the ancient Greeks and Romans, will scarcely fail to observe the very striking points of resemblance which those I have been relating present. The wedding, the bridal procession, the songs of the friends, and many of the inferior details, preserve a similarity truly wonderful, when the varied circumstances, and the long intervening space of time, are taken into consideration. The fact must, however, be borne in mind, that the habits of the people in various districts are so extremely diverse, that the description of those which prevail in one place, by no means conveys a correct idea of those of a village only a few miles distant.
street, was entered from the court on its side. Here a part of the family, in their gala dresses, were awaiting the arrival of the priest who was to officiate. There is a large fund of kindness in the Grecian heart, even among the poorest; and the inmates of the cottage received us with pleasure, and exerted themselves to the utmost to entertain us. The priest kept us waiting for him.
When he did come, I found that he was an acquaintance, and officiated in the neighboring church of St. Nicholas Rangaves; whose shrill little bell, ringing to call the people to their devotions, used to break in upon my morning slumbers.
A good heart beats within that coarse black gown, and a ruddy face beams with good nature from under the priestly cap ; båt a plentiful use of the snuff-box does not improve his appearance for cleanliness.
A large brass vessel, a couple of feet in diameter, was brought in by a young man, and placed in the centre of the room. Several bucketsful of warm and cold water were poured in, until the temperature was judged suitable. But before the water was fit for using, another operation was necessary; for the presence of any evil spirits or magic in the water would infallibly impair, if not destroy, the effect of the ordinance. If any such beings or influence lay concealed, they were assuredly dispelled by the manipulations of the priest, who, baring his arm, three times drew it through the water, making the sign of the cross. And if this had been ineffectual, they could not remain after that he had blown upon the surface, so as to repeat the same sacred sign upon it. The water being thus consecrated, the child was brought in, neatly dressed in white, and presented by its godfather for baptism. And now it was stripped of every particle of clothing, then taken by the priest, who held it up before the whole company, in order, I presume, that all might be witnesses to the act. A small bottle of oil was presented to the ecclesiastic, and after its contents had been sanctified by receiving an apostolic benediction, the infant's entire body was anointed with it. This is not, however, considered an integral part of the religious rite ; but is merely intended to prevent any injurious effects from the application of water at so tender an age, as is customary among the Greeks. And the precaution, if it be of any avail, is certainly needed. The common people consider the performance of the ceremony almost, if not quite, a sine qua non of salvation, believing in its regenerating influence. So
A GREEK BAPTISM.
One of the tenants of a friend intended to have his child baptized ; and we were included among those who were requested to witness the ceremony:
The small cottage, which stood with its end to the