Wedding in Paros
Photo: Stavros Niflis
The rule says that a marriage can happen out of love, pregnancy, or matchmaking. In Paros since the olden days most marriages took place out of love.
Paros is what the young would call a meeting point of many historical moments. Rising and falling, passing from civilization to civilization, conquerors, pirates, paganism and Christianity, all left their mark on the wedding ritual which basically has to take its time. Because marriage is “forever”. Even if a marriage can be annulled these days with short procedures and consensual statements, “forever” needs its ritual and of course all the steps, from the engagement to the invitations, the planning, and the wedding itself are but small cycles that close each time with a ceremony to prepare couples for the final closure: “forever”.
All this passed throughout the centuries and from generation to generation and finally to us through lyrics, which are called “kotsakia” here in Paros. Every time a traditional wedding takes place on the island, the sound of the violin, the lute, and the bagpipes takes us to the time when after the blessing of the rings by the priest, the groom was allowed to visit the bride’s house.
Or when on a Thursday before the wedding, always on a Sunday, everyone gathered around the wedding bed with the trousseau, giving wishes and presents so that all the best would come and the union be fruitful. For this purpose, the fruits of the earth are helpful, so imaginative preserves of grapes, quince, even small eggplants with almonds would be made for the occasion. The latter did not become a bonbon by the French accidentally, since the almond is a symbol of fertility not only in Paros, whose patron goddess was Dimitra (goddess of agriculture and fertility), but in the entire archipelago!
Symbolism, music, and words weave the union. Shots ring out and the couple dances hand in hand while the violin, the lute, and the bagpipes vibrate their union. The meal of joy is prepared on the tables, dancing begins, and the communion unites the guests in a circle, like the rings the bride and groom put on their fingers, like the cycle of life. They move in the steps of the dance, part of the tradition, which was given to us to carry on in our way of living and ultimately, by understanding its roots, to create our own personal traditions.
So, if you decide to get married here, we will give you a small sample of real weddings that took place on the island, together with a wish, as the locals would sing it:
“LET THE NEW COUPLE LIVE AND GROW OLD TOGETHER”.