Last summer I found myself on a plane with my two cousins and our aunt heading for Greece. Although my cousins and I were born in America, our parents (and so on and so forth) were born in Greece. This was the first time I would be going to Greece in seven or so years.
After settling down in my grandparents house in northern Greece in the small village of Hrissohorafa my cousins and I prepared for our second cousin, Dina’s, wedding. This wedding would be a Greek wedding like no other. I’ve been to my fair share of Greek weddings- in the States- but a wedding in the country of Greece and in the villages where traditions are still practiced is the absolute best thing in the world.
The best part of the wedding happened two days before the actual ceremony: the kana. All the brides relatives would come together at the bride’s family’s house (and in villages that means a good portion of the people!) and all the groom’s relatives met up at his family’s house. At a certain time the groom’s family- with the bride’s wedding outfit- danced/ walked down the street to the brides house accompanied by loud music. Once the groom’s family reached the house all the single female relatives of the bride danced with the groom’s wedding outfit. Which included my cousins and I.
My bride-cousin’s mother started telling my cousins and I that we would be dancing. This was big and unwanted news for we didn’t know the dance at all and yet here we were being forced to do it in front of hundreds of people (small village = interconnected families!). There were only a few of us dancing (and my cousins and I were the only ones who didn’t know what we were doing!) and the dance was pretty simple so it wasn’t that long before we caught on to the steps. After a certain amount of time passed the circle was joined by other people including the groom’s father. But not only does the groom’s father join in- he joins in holding a live chicken over his head and waving it around! My cousins and I are sharing surprised looks at each other and we can’t stop laughing at what just happened. When the chicken stops moving we are certain that the it died from a heart attack. Later we would find out that the chicken was given ouzo which is a strong Greek alcohol. Only in Greece! Another tradition that happened that night was the chance of the trying on the bride’s wedding dress! Only the single female relatives could and I think that only my cousins and I were invited to try it on. The rest of the kana continued well into the night with live music, more dancing, and lots and lots of food.
That night was one of the best nights I had in Greece on that trip. You would think that in a small village things would happen in a smaller, less extravagent manner. Yet I know that these traditions wouldn’t have happened in a Greek city or even here in the States. You’d get slapped with fines for disturbing the peace with all the music and blocking the streets. In this small village we were able to celebrate in a big way and I’m really glad that I have had this experience. I hope now that when I have my own ‘Big Fat Greek Wedding’ I can marry in Greece and experience this all over again.
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