The Cemetery and the Wedding
July 25, 2011
Wow, it’s been a busy week. I’m now in Kiev and I need to start conducting my experiment for the thesis but everybody’s been asking me when I’ll write a new blog and coincidentally I’m not feeling in the mood to start working on my research just yet.
So on Wednesday I went with Ihor(Roma’s brother) to Lychakivskiy cemetary. I have a very morbid side to me I suppose because I love cemetaries. My favorite place inMoscowis Novodevichy Cemetary and this was probably my favorite place in Lviv. So we walked all around the cemetary I took TONS of pictures. I made Ihor speak in English the whole time. He has quite the interesting and I don’t know how useful vocabulary now with words like: family vault, grave, cemetary, cremation, remains and so on.
Friday I met up with Ihor again. He’s a professor at the University of Ivan Franko in Lviv. His sister was supposed to take her English language exam on Saturday and she was really nervous about it. So we wandered around the university while Ihor tried to see if there was any way he could get ahold of a copy of the test so that he could give it to her beforehand. The other possibility that he came up with, had I not been going to the countryside on Saturday when she was supposed to take the test, is that I could go in and sit next to her while she takes the test and tell her the right answers. Wow, funny.
In the countryside on Saturday Ulyana and I went first thing in the morning to get manicure/pedicure and hairdo for the wedding. They did such a good job and for both of us for all of that, plus a tip (which is not custom here but I paid it anyway) I paid $50. I couldn’t believe it.
Oh, let me explain about the wedding. I was supposed to take the train toKievSaturday night but Ulyana and Oleh would not have been around to take me to the train station. Oleh’s friend was getting married. They invited me to go to the wedding, I really wanted to go, I decided to fly to Kiev instead. I’m glad I went. It was quite the experience.
Although the whole experience made me kind of sad that we (at least in Utah) don’t have a whole lot of traditions associated with weddings.
So the wedding was more like a triathalon. You go to the groom’s house and he bows to all of his family and asks for their blessing. Notice the adorable little babtsya (Galician dialect for grandma) just sobbing. They then move on to the bride’s house. Where the groom has to buy her with gifts and money. At first they bring out a fake bride and the groom has to give even more money and gifts to get the correct one.
They then drive in separate cars to the church. The ceremony at the church is very lovely. I especially love the crowning ritual. The molodyata (young couple) then stands on the steps throws candy out to the crowd. Had I not been in 4 inch heels I would have been in there viciously elbowing my way through the kids to get handfuls of it. But then I thought maybe it would be unseemly. The couple then releases doves.
Then we walked from the church to the restaurant and as the couple passed passerbys on the street they bowed to them.
At the restaurant we had to wait and every visitor gave the couple money and maybe some flowers, but mostly money. This is awesome. No stupid dish towels, no pizza stones, just money. Each guest should give at least $30. We were then seated at the table that had all sorts of goodies to eat that people from the village had been slaving away making over the last couple of days.
The toasts began. The guests start singing ‘hirka hirka’ (which means bitter and it signals that the couple are supposed to stand up and kiss). They also have songs which mean the the bridesmaid and best men have to kiss. I’m amazed. How do they know all those songs? My husband barely remembers the words to “Happy Birthday”.
I was actually very impressed by how reasonably everyone drank. They were very responsible and they didn’t just get sloppy like Russians do. Moreover, there was a designated bus for ‘drunk guests’ so as to keep drunk driving at bay. And anyone who was driving made sure that everyone knew that they couldn’t drink.
So there were three rounds. Dinner, singing and then we went downstairs to the dance party. I loved it! I love dancing and I especially love when everybody just dances and has a good time. I love that people here just dance and enjoy themselves. I hate the mentality that you often find inAmericathat you should only dance if you’re a good dancer. I was amazed at how all the young guys even knew how to waltz and polka. There was no hip hop or salsa at the wedding which are my favorites but I did pretty well on the waltz and polka, considering that the floor was slippery and I was wearing heels.
At about 1 am we went back upstairs for another round of singing and eating. Then went back downstairs for more dancing. At 3:30 we went back upstairs for more singing and eating and then back downstairs for more dancing. I only made it until about 5 am and then I went home early with Ulyana’s parents while she stayed til the end. And I thought my husband’s family reunions went long.
One thing I’ve never learned how to do in a foreign language is to very clearly is to tell I guy who is hitting on me to get lost. I think because we Americans smile so much the message just doesn’t quite come across. I think I’m too polite about it. Plus, maybe my accent sounds really sweet or something. But a 70 year old man latched himself on to me. I tried to be polite. It was sweet because he tried to speak English, but he was getting a little grabby for my tastes. I gave my friend a look to indicate to her to come over and save me. She came over and tried to intervene politely. But then she just whisked me right away when the old man said “yaka krasota, ya by tebe traxav” For those of you who understand that I apologize for the vulgarity and for those of you don’t. Let’s just say it’s something that no one wants to hear from an old man’s mouth, especially when it’s directed at you.