Late last month, two of our friends were married in a beautiful ceremony in Zarnesti. They had a traditional Romanian wedding and that means that we celebrated for three days. Each day had significant customs and traditions that were meaningful not only for the bride and groom, but also for the community as well. I’m going to break down the posts into three parts because each day highlights in different ways the heritage of the Romanian people.
The first night of the wedding begins at the house of the groom. His closest male friends and relatives pile on a horse cart, armed with evergreens, tuica, and a three piece band. The three piece band consists of a drummer, a saxophonist, and an accordion player. They play traditional Romanian music (as loudly as possibly).
Their mission? Visit the homes of the bride, groom, and godparents and tie the evergreens to their gates. The evergreen signifies to everyone in the village that a wedding is going to happen.
The men are also expected to raise a little hell while they’re doing it, of course.
The men and the cart start their journey by riding in the horse cart to the bride’s parents’ house. The bride greets the rowdy bunch with more tuica and plates of treats. The plates of tiny cakes are passed around and everyone is expected to drink and eat. The bride and her family dance the sirba in the street with the visitors.
The caravan begins to pick up with more people (the bride’s family joins the pilgrimage) – and now there are cars following the horse cart through the town. The band plays, the men in the cart drink and yell, and everyone comes out their front door to see the commotion. The cars following the cart blast loud Romanian music and honk their horns. If it sounds like a raucous, it is. The louder, the better.
The cart and cars arrive at the house of the godparents. The godparents play an important role in the newly married couple’s lives. This is a couple that is chosen by the bride and groom to be their marriage role models. The couple doesn’t necessarily have to be older, they just have to have a good relationship with each other and with the bride and groom.
At their home, the evergreens go up, and more tuica/cake/dancing happens.
Here is a video of the group dancing and me turning down all the alcohol (cry). Fun fact, Romania has ~zero tolerance~ alcohol and driving laws. Your BAC had better be 0% when you get behind the wheel. So no tuica for me. Or beer. Waah.
For me, the cakes were really important. I love cake. These little Romanian celebration cakes were really good. I appreciated getting to eat so many of them.
Last, the group (now much, much larger as we have acquired the godparents and their family as well) heads to the home of the groom. In our case, it was the groom’s parents’ business which happens to be a lovely pensiune. They decorate the gate and then (surprise!) dance in the street, all together in a huge group.
Now, the very large party of family and friends celebrates the bride and groom by having a grill. (Loud) music continues to be played until you’re pretty sure the melodies have been tattooed on your brain and more drinking happens (except not me, because driving). It’s like an American rehearsal dinner, only a lot more fun.
Afterwards, people go home and get some good rest because the next day will have more drinking, dancing, and loud music for almost 20 hours straight.