TRADITIONAL LITHUANIAN WEDDING STRUCTURE
Lithuanian weddings have always been subject to a variety of traditions
and rituals. This combination of numerous customs, rituals and ceremonies
was handed down through centuries and includes national ethnic features.
Changes that have taken place during the years are the cause of different
family outlooks, ethnic and moral views, life styles and material difficulties.
Based on historical sources, it is evident that Lithuanian weddings
are preceded by a variety of rituals. One feature is that it is not the
father's objective to find a mate for his son. Father empowers the matchmaker
to find the proper mate. During the matchmaking, the young people are introduced
to each other and get to know each other. The matchmaker bargains for a
proper dowry with the future bride's parents. Matchmaking is the first
part of the wedding cycle, lasting long or short periods of time, however
it always includes different, chronologically spaced, pre wedding rituals
with certain traditions.
The second part of the cycle is the wedding itself. It consists of:
the eve of the wedding day
the wedding day's morning ritual before leaving the house for church
rituals in the bride's home until she becomes a daughter in law
becoming a daughter in law
the bride's reception in the groom's home
the acceptance of the bride by the groom's family and the community
The third part of the wedding cycle is the return visit of the newly
weds [ a.k.a. sugr¹žtai ] to the bride's home and collection
of the dowry.
So, according to character and time, there are three complexes of the
wedding ceremonies: matchmaking, marriage and the return visit. Matchmaking
and the return visit are made up of ceremonies that take place within the
family circle. The wedding ceremony, as a way of legalizing marriage within
society, takes place with active participation of the families of the bride
and groom and of community members. This makes the wedding not only a family
but also a community holiday.
Lithuanian weddings are made of sacred and playful complex actions,
carried out by a large group of people, according to traditional order,
with function and meaning. Wedding rituals are made of compulsory and secondary
elements. Even though both elements were constantly changing through the
ages, they have remained until now.