Elena Chimonas' Blog

Photographic Inspirations

Transformative Storytelling task

”Using only found personal images (ie images from family albums, online galleries [that you have permission to use] and local library archives, not published in magazines) research and construct a photo-artefact that weaves a narrative linking the archive population (a story of the people depicted within your chosen set of images).

Development : Build and include a soundscape relevant to your story. Include personal stories from the subjects depicted.”

The customs and traditions of Greek weddings have been preserved for centuries. There are several rituals involved within the service that are symbolic. Many of them repeated 3 times which reflects that the holy trinity is ever present.

For this task I am going to tell a small story about some traditions in Greek weddings. I find these traditions very strange and I wanted to portray them in a good light but also explain what I have learnt. I have attended a few Greek weddings and many of the traditions make me feel uncomfortable. I have written a but about what I have understood from a few of the traditions.

The church service is split into 3 main parts. The first is the service of the betrothal. This is the exchanging of the rings. It begins with the lighting of candles to signify that the couples wish to accept the light of Christ in their married lives. These candles remain lit through out the entire service.

The priest then blesses the rings which is a symbol of a pledge of their eternal devotion and love. Whilst holding them in his right hand, he makes a sign of the cross over the couples heads. The right hand being important as it is the hand that makes the sign of the cross.

He then places the rings on the third finger of the right hand of the bride and groom. The best man and maid of honer then exchange the rings back and forth 3 times to signify that the strength and weakness of one will be compensated by the other.

The second of the 3 parts centers of the crowning of the couple. The priest begins with a few prayers and then joins the couples right hands together. This denotes their ever lasting unity and their hands will remain joined until the end of the ceremony.

The crowning ceremony is the heart of the service. Originally made from pleated lemon blossoms but nowadays are made from dry materials such as fabric and semi precious stones. They are called stefana and are held together with a piece of ribbon which signifys the couples unity. They are thin crowns that are a symbol of the nobility of marriage and the glory and honer that God will give the couple. The bride and groom are crowned with previously blessed stefana and the best man switches them 3 times. This is followed by bible reading.

The bride and groom sip 3 times from the common cup of life. They receive it jointly as one. It is shared mutually signifying the mutual sharing of  sorrow and joy, dreams and hopes for their life together. From that moment forth their happiness and disappointments will be shared.

The steps of man and wife are taken by circling the alter table together 3 times. The priest takes them by the hands and leads them around which holds the gospel and the cross. They are followed by the best man whose job it is to make sure the crowns to stay in place on both their heads.

The final part of the service is when the priest takes off the crowns and the couple receive their blessing. Whilst praying for them, he separates their hands with the bible symbolising that only God can break their union. The newly weds are congratulated by the rest of the congression.

After the dinner and a some dancing, the couple take to the floor for the world –known money dance. This is where the guests make their way to the dance floor and pin money onto the happy couple as they dance. First the parents pin money, followed by the grand parents and siblings – then the rest of the guests.  The moneu is given as a gift to the couple to help them in their married life together. The money is held together with pins and as a result creates a line of money. In this present day, a lot of young couples prefer not to do the money dance but instead to adopt the new Cypriot tradition of ‘Sheredema’ which is when the couple stand at the top of the hall and allow their guests to line up and shake hands whilst congratulating them and handing them an envelope. The envelope contains the money that would have been pinned onto the couple.

I created a photo film depicting some of the customs and traditions of Greek weddings.

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