Lesson #284: The Third Anniversary

Today, my (totally awesome) cousin in a major Canadian city and her (almost equally awesome) husband are celebrating their third anniversary. Their wedding remains one of the best parties I’ve ever attended.*

I learned by accident from one of her friends that the traditional gift for the third anniversary is leather.

Don’t think our friends and I aren’t puerile enough to make completely inappropriate jokes about this.

That said, a very happy third anniversary to the Cheesedoodles. CHEESEDOODLES 4EVA!

*It’s really fun to play dress-up sometimes! There’s a particularly entertaining (and totally classy) picture of me in my maid of honour ensemble dancing with one of our friends/their groomsmen in which I’m holding a bottle of beer behind his back that is still one of my favourite pictures of me ever because it’s pretty much the definitive “me” photograph. The wedding was a very classy affair at a very nice private venue, but this was taken towards the end of the night when my cousin and I had given up all pretense of being classy for our (much classier) parents!

Lesson #152: The 34th Anniversary

My parents are celebrating their 34th wedding anniversary today, which is pretty awesome mostly for the fact that I can’t imagine liking anyone enough to put up with them on an 8 week trip across a country (as they did just after they were married and as the devastatingly gorgeous Dutch guy I met in Wadi Rum is undertaking with his girlfriend on the Trans-Siberian Railroad next month), nevermind staying with them for 34 years.

Anyway, there is no traditional gift for a 34th anniversary, you know, because 34 is a really arbitrary number, but in modernity, the gift associated with the 34th anniversary is opal.

Congrats Mom and Dad!

An Addendum to Lesson #3: The Specifics of the Orthodox Wedding

What follows is text from an email my cousin (who is getting married in the Orthodox Church a month from Thursday) sent out today:

“The Russian Orthodox wedding service (almost all of which will be in English!) is a little different than the one we’re all used to.  First of all, it is a very set order of service, with flexibility being primarily in the music arrangements chosen.

Fiance added to our website a bunch of info about various parts of the service.  For example, we get to wear crowns!  Also, a formal betrothal ceremony actually takes place in the doorway, which is where rings are exchanged.  Fiance and I move to the centre of the church only after this first part.  There will be programs.

I did want to prepare you for an additional thing…There are pews around the outsides, but primarily everyone stands. I think Mom has already spoken to many of you about this, but don’t be afraid to sit. While the order of service is inflexible, everything else is extremely flexible. Don’t be afraid to wander around, take pictures, get a different view, etc. Except for when the gospel is read, there will probably be people (especially kids) moving and it is completely fine. Don’t feel like you have to be anchored to the floor. Only place off limits is the centre of the big red stairs at the front. No one will go up there except the people wearing the funny robes. :)

On that note, there will be three priests, and possibly a deacon serving.  The reason being that many of Fiance’s extended family members are clergy.  (In orthodox church you can be a monk-priest, or you can be married with children.)  Fiance’s uncle is the priest at this church.

I attached a picture of the inside of the church so you can see what it looks like.  It’s very different.  Fiance and I will be standing where the tub is, which is actually the centre of the church (a big t-shape).

If you have any questions, please ask! Mom, Dad, Brother and I can field appropriately. I know it could be a little weird with the standing, etc. I just want to make sure you all know you should feel comfortable doing whatever you need to do.

See you soon!”

Lesson #3: Eastern Orthodox Weddings

I have a cousin who is being married in the Eastern Orthodox Church in April and today’s post came out of a conversation with another cousin about said wedding (that I will miss because I’ll be halfway around the world at the time).

Two quick background notes on Eastern Orthodoxy: 1. It is the second largest Christian communion in the world and 2. along with Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism, it is one of three members of the Holy Catholic Church.

The wedding consists of two parts, the exchange of the rings and the crowning. The exchange of the rings is the same as in any Judeo-Christian wedding where lovely things are said about love and faith and devotion. This is the betrothal ceremony, after which, there is a lighting of candles and the joining of the couple’s right hands, which stay joined for the remainder of the wedding ceremony. During the crowning ceremony crowns are placed on the heads of the bride and groom. The crowns are “signs of the glory and honor with which God crowns them during the Mystery. The groom and the bride are crowned as the king and queen of their own little kingdom, the home – domestic church, which they will rule with fear of God, wisdom, justice and integrity.”* The crowns are also meant to be representative of the crowns of the martyrs as marriage involves a high level of self-sacrifice. After the crowning come the Epistle and the Gospel. The Gospel is traditionally the passage about Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Canaan and is followed by the bride and groom drinking wine from the “common cup” which symbolizes the life of sharing they have ahead of them. Finally, there is a walk around the altar, the removal of the crowns, separation of the hands and the presentation of the couple.

And then, as with pretty much every wedding everywhere in the world, afterwards there’s a big party to celebrate the new couple.

*Quoted text and further information that is not about Russian Brides (seriously) can be found here. There is also some good information here.