Polish Wedding - Present Traditions in Poland - Introduction (I)

Read Step by Step Guide to the Wedding Ceremony. How does a typical wedding in Poland presently look like? Here I will describe a typical ceremony that I remember from Poland of late 60-es up to 90-es. This article is a first article about Polish wedding but it was preceded by several texts about Polish family situation.
Rapid change of a political and economical system influenced many areas of life in Poland - also the weddings. So, I am sorry if some of the aspects of life in Poland described by me here - have already changed in Polish present life and culture. I am indebted to Liliana S. for help in writing this article and also many other articles about Polish tradition. I will also try to relate some Polish tradition to the American tradition and point out possible differences.

First of all in Polish vocabulary there are two separate words for a wedding ceremony and wedding party.
A wedding ceremony which takes place either in a church (church wedding in Polish "slub koscielny", church = "kosciól") or in the magistrate (civil marriage = called "slub cywilny") is called "slub". The word "slub" means a ceremony in which a person takes vows. A monk or a noon can take vows in what is called "slub zakonny" or a young couple who is going to be married takes vows in what is called "slub malzenski" (marriage oath) or simply "slub". The word "s" had a stroke over the top and is pronounced very softly.

The wedding party is called "wesele" and the wedding guests are called "weselnicy".
Just some useful vocabulary.

The wedding is proceeded by the engagement.
An engagement is usually a small ceremony that takes place in the house of the parents or parents in law. Sometimes, this is a time when in-laws meet each other the first time, sometimes there is no engagement at all. The words "fiancč" and "fiancče", in Polish "narzeczony" and "narzeczona" respectively are rarely used since they are considered slightly old fashioned.

Poland is a Catholic country but communists ran us for over forty years. Communists wanted to turn Poles into a laic society.
They were promoting civil ceremonies for naming a child (to replace the church ceremony of baptism), they were promoting also civil weddings and civil funerals. Civil wedding was a necessity during communism since church wedding was not recognized by the government. Thus a majority of couples were wed twice usually during the same day, first in the magistrate later in the church. Many towns and town districts had also their own "Wedding Palaces". A communistic government was not very successful in its efforts to replace a church wedding by a civil ceremony - the civil ceremony remained usually small and limited to the closest family members. The groom usually was wearing the same black suit in both - civil and church ceremonies whereas the bride wore an elegant but business- type jacket and a skirt or a dress.

Saturday is the most popular wedding day
because the wedding party usually last to the early morning hours of the next day in towns (and much longer in villages but we will talk about it later). Besides, there are some favorite seasons for weddings - Easter week and also Christmas week - since the church does not allow to organize any dancing parties during Advent and Lent seasons. Also there is some prejudice against having a wedding in month of May - although May is considered the best month for love. According to statistics there were three times less couples married in May than in any other month on the average.
UPDATE! There is a new fashion in Poland - a wedding in the castle! Some of my friends, especially the richer or these who married a foreigner had their marriage ceremony in Polish castle! Check the offer of one of the castles which offer weddings.

Beautiful Polish-South African couple
Krasiczyn Castle in the background
credit: Val Waters

In the next article you will find Step by Step Guide to the Wedding Ceremony.

written by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn (article #98)

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Polish Weddings Customs & Traditions by Sophie Hodorowicz Knab

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