Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
June 18, 2001
Ukrainian wedding traditions
Exhibit displays marriage Ukrainian style
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
MUNDARE — If you want to plan your wedding according to the Ukrainian tradition or if you simply want to know more about marriage Ukrainian-style, you owe yourself a visit to the Basilian Fathers' Museum here.
The Mundare museum, 80 km east of Edmonton, opened its new season in late May with a huge wedding display that includes more than 180 wedding photographs (from 1902 to 1949), seven wedding gowns (one from 1916), wedding stories, wedding headpieces, wedding music traditions and even traditional wedding food.
The exhibit, called The Sacrament of Matrimony, has four parts. The first two cover the traditional Ukrainian wedding and Eastern rite Church customs. The third part looks at the wedding from God's perspective and the last part traces the development of the Ukrainian wedding from the pioneer era to 1949.
Museum curator Dagmar Rais thinks the display could be of help to those who want to plan a traditional wedding.
It could also be useful to those who want to learn how the Bible treats marriage, which is clearly revealed by the show's subtitle, "It is not good that man should be alone"(Genesis 2:18), and which Rais explains thoroughly in a 69-page guide to the show.
"Marriage as a sacred sacrament begins with the Genesis story, and indeed, with the beginning of the world," she says.
Two wedding stories included with the exhibit celebrate the wedding sacrament. The first is the reminiscences of Josephine (Fill) Lesoway, whose marriage to husband Nick lasted 50 years. The second is Rais' own wedding story.
Like Lesoway and Rais, dozens of people loaned objects for the display, which is one reason the curator decided to put it up in the first place.
"Themes like this allow me to involve many people," she said. "And as soon as you involve people, attendance increases." About 400 people showed up for the opening on May 27, many more than the museum can handle at one time.
While many Ukrainian wedding traditions have disappeared or changed over the centuries, a few remain and can be appreciated in the display. These include the use of traditional breads such as the braided kolach, the wedding korovai and the festive brama (a gate created from spruce branches and decorated with streamers), which was still seen in the 1950s.
As explained by Rais, the Ukrainian folk costume played a significant part in the wedding ceremony. The bride's headpiece was particularly important, although it took different forms in different parts of Ukraine. In some areas, it was a simple wreath of flowers and ribbons; in others, it was more ornate.
During the wedding ritual, the bride traded her headpiece for a kerchief - the sign of a married woman.
In Canada, traditional folk costume soon disappeared and was substituted with a white dress for the bride and a dark suit for the groom.
The show, which will be on display for at least a year, also includes the story of Ukrainian wedding music traditions, featuring instruments used in Sadownyks' Orchestra.
The museum is open year round Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On summer weekends it's open from 1 to 5 p.m. For more information call the museum at (780) 764-3887.
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