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The Ukrainian wedding: an examination of its rites, customs, and traditions



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The Ukrainian wedding of the 19th and early 20th centuries is an integral and probably the most important rite of passage in Ukrainian society. The wedding ceremonies provide an orderly framework which couples followed when they decided to marry. Moreover, they allow for the formation of a new family unit, which in turn allows for the continuity of life. The Ukrainian wedding, however, is not simply a functional event, for the wedding ceremonies provide a wealth of information about the past and contemporary societies that inhabited the territory known as Ukraine. This thesis provides a composite description of the 19th and early 20th century Ukrainian wedding, based on Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish sources published during this period. Chapter One is an introduction wherein the objectives of this thesis and the importance of the 19th and early 20th century wedding are explained. An outline of the thesis is also provided. Chapter Two examines the long and sporadic history of Ukrainian wedding research. In Chapter Three the first stage of the wedding, the preliminary pre-wedding ceremonies, is described. This period is made up of events that provide an opportunity for the groom's family to initiate the marriage proposal, for the bride's family to consider it, and lastly, for the community to approve the union. Chapter Four provides an account of events that are both functional and symbolic in nature. Chapter Five is a description of the wedding day, when the couple's union is sanctified by the Church and the community, and when the marriage is consummated. And, finally, Chapter Six examines the post-wedding phase, during which the community celebrates the consummation of the marriage. Chapter Seven will review the significance of the wedding ceremonies and restate the themes that reoccur throughout the wedding. In addition to the main text of this thesis, Appendix A discusses the presence of Ukrainian wedding traits in 13 of the 21 provinces inhabited by Ukrainians during the 19th and early 20th centuries.





Master of Arts (M.A.)


Religious Studies and Anthropology


Religious Studies and Anthropology



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