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Chambers, Robert, 1802-1871 / Chambers's book of days, a miscellany of popular antiquities in connection with the calendar, including anecdote, biography & history, curiosities of literature and oddities of human life and character
Vol. I (1879)

June,   pp. [unnumbered]-832 PDF (75.4 MB)

Page 721

MARRIAGE SUPERSTITIONS                  JUNE.                             AND CUSTOMS.
must have been arrested by its homely splen-
dours.  Annexed is a cut representing the
In pagan days, when Rolf married King
Erik's daughter, the king and queen sat throued
in state, whilst courtiers passed in front, offering
gifts of oxen, cows, swine, sheep, sucking-pigs,
geese, and even cats. A shield, sword, and axe
were among the bride's wedding outfit, that she
might, if necessary, defend herself from her
husband's blows.
In the vast steppes of south-eastern Russia,
on the shores of the Caspian and Black Sea,
marriage ceremonies recall the patriarchal cus-
toms of the earliest stages of society. The
evening before the day when the affianced bride
is given to her husband, she pays visits to her
master and the inhabitants of the village, in the
simple dress of a peasant, consisting of a red
cloth jacket, descending as low as the knees,
a very short white petticoat, fastened at the
waist with a red woollen scarf, above which is
an embroidered chemise. The legs, which are
always bare above the ankle, are sometimes pro-
tected by red or yellow morocco boots. The
girls of the village who accompany her are, on
the contrary, attired in their best, recalling the
old paintings of Byzantine art, where the Virgin
is adorned with a coronal. They know how to
arrange with great art the leaves and scarlet
berries of various kinds of trees in their hair, the
tresses of which are plaited as a crown, or hang
down on the shoulders. A necklace of pearls or
coral is wound at least a dozen times round the
2eck, on which they hang religious medals, with
-namel paintings imitating mosaic. At each
house the betrothed throws herself on her knees
before the head of it, and kisses his feet as she
begs his pardon; the fair penitent is immediately
raised and kissed, receiving some small present,
whilst she in return gives a small roll of bread,
of a symbolic form. On her return home all her
beautiful hair is cut off, as henceforth she must
wear the platoke, or turban, a woollen or linen
shawl which is rolled round the head, and is the
only distinction between the married and un-
married.   It is invariably presented by the
husband, as the Indian shawl among ourselves;
which, however, we have withdrawn from its
original destination, which ought only to be a
head-dress. The despoiled bride expresses her
regrets with touching grace, in one of their
simple songs: 'Oh, my curls, my fair zolden hair!
Not for one only. not for two years only, have I
arranged you-every Saturday you were bathed,
every Sunday you were ornamented, and to-day,
in a single hour, I must lose you!' The old
woman whose duty it is to roll the turban round
the brow, wishing her happiness, says, ' I cover
your head with the platoke, my sister, and I wish
you health and happiness. Be pure as water,
and fruitful as the earth.' When the marriage
is over, the husband takes his wife to the
inhabitants of the village, and shows them the
change of dress effected the night before.
Among the various tribes of Asia none are so
rich or well-dressed as the Armenians; to them
belongs chiefly the merchandise of precious
stones, which they export to Constantinople.
The Armenian girl whose marriage is to be
described had delicate flowers of celestial blue
painted all over her breast and neck, her eye-
brows were dyed black, and the tips of her
fingers and nails of a bright orange. She wore
on each hand valuable rings set with precious
stones, and round her neck a string of very fine
turquoises; her shirt was of the finest spun silk,
her jacket and trousers of cashmere of a bright
colour. The priest and his deacon arrived; the
latter bringing a bag containing the sacerdotal
garments, in which the priest arrayed himself,
placing a mitre ornamented with precious stones
on his head, and a collar of metal,-on which the
twelve apostles were represented in has relief,-
round his neck. He began by blessing a sort of
temporary altar in the middle of the room; the
mother of the bride took her by the hand, and
leading her forward, she bowed at the feet of
her future husband, to show that she acknow-
ledged him as lord and master. The priest,
placing their hands in each other, pronounced a
prayer, and then drew their heads together until
they touched three times, while with his right
hand he made a motion as if blessing them; a
second time their hands were joined, and the
bridegroom was asked, 'Will you be her hus-
band'? ' ' I will,' he answered, raising at the
same time the veil of the bride, in token that
she was now his, and letting it fall again. The
priest then took two wreaths of flowers, orna-
mented with a quantity of hanging gold threads,
from the hands of the deacon, put them on the
heads of the married couple, changed them three
times from one head to the other, repeating each
time, 'I unite you, and bind you one to another

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