Macedonia’s Galichnik Wedding Festival

The Galičnik Wedding Festival is an annual festival held in the Macedonian village of Galičnik, in which a selected couple gets married in the traditional “Galička” style wedding. Traditionally the wedding lasted for 5 days with the main activities on St. Peter‘s Day (12 July) every year. It was the only period of the year when couples got married. Today it is part of the festival “Galičko Leto” meaning Galičnik Summer. It is a two-day event held on the weekend nearest to July 12th. Tourists in Macedonia flock to Galičnik to witness this beautiful ceremony and take part in the festivities. Each year, couples from all over Macedonia enter a competition run by the organizers to be the couple that gets to have a Galicka style wedding.

The five day event comprises of the following program….

Inviting the dead relatives to the wedding:
The bridegroom, along with a group of his closest relatives, visits the graves of dead family members where he proceeds to invite the deceased to his wedding.

Inviting the ‘kum (literally: “godfather”, though the closest equivalent in English is “best man”): After returning from the cemetery, the bridegroom, his friends and closest relatives invite the best man to the wedding.

Shaving the bridegroom:
In front of the “Upija” fountain, one of the friends shaves the bridegroom; an act which makes the closest relatives rueful because the shaving is a symbol of the separation of the boy from his mother and father.

Off to the bride’s house to formally ask for her hand in marriage:
From the bridegroom’s house, an entourage of over 50 in-laws goes to the bride’s house. The entourage is led by a bajraktar (flag bearer) and his friends on horses. The horses walk slowly in front of the entourage. Before their arrival, one of the bridegroom’s friends goes to the bride’s house to ask for permission for the arrival of the in-laws. He then returns to re-join the procession.

Arrival of the marriage brokers:
After the arrival of the in-laws, the flag bearer hands over the flag which is hung by the window. Then one of the bridegroom’s friends leads his horse in front of the bride’s house where the bride looks at the bridegroom through her ring. The bridegroom kisses the hands of the bride’s parents and then they put a towel over his shoulder.

The bride welcoming the marriage brokers:
In front of the house the bridegroom’s closest relatives sit at a table. The bridegroom’s mother gives presents to the bride and then the bride kisses her hand. The bride gets dressed and ready to go.

The bride sets off with the in-laws:
A bridegroom’s friend informs the in-laws that the bride is ready and they all prepare to go. The bride mounts a horse. The procession is then led by the flag bearer.

Welcoming the bride:
The bridegroom’s mother welcomes the bride with a sieve, a cake, and a goblet full of wine. She circles around the bride three times tapping her on the head with the cake. Then she puts a bridle on her and on the bridegroom’s cap. The bridegroom helps the bride to dismount the horse. Then she walks into the house.

Macedonia’s Galichnik Wedding Festival

Marriage ceremony:
The bride, the bridegroom’s mother and father, the flag-bearer and the other relatives walk up to the church. The bridegroom’s mother carries a kettle and a basil bouquet. She spatters the young couple and other guests on the way from the house to the church. A carpet is laid in front of the church and a flag is hung to the right of the entrance.

Marriage banquet:
After the wedding ceremony there is a wedding banquet at the “Upija“. The best man resides at the head of the table and the bridegroom calls for a toast.

Taking the bride to “Upija” where she leads the brides dance:
The bridegroom’s father and the best man lead the entourage. The bride is taken to the fountain where she fills water jugs. After that, the bride leads the bride’s dance.

Farewell to the musicians:
When wedding ends, the closest relatives say goodbye to the musicians.

Read more about Macedonia.

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