The wedding night: how it was in Russia

The wedding night: how it was in Russia

Categories: History

The first wedding night in Russia was arranged in a special way and had a lot of differences from the similar tradition of other nations. Among the peoples of Africa, Europe and India, the right of the first night meant intimate contact of the bride with a stranger. Often it was an elder of the tribe, a noble lord, or even just the first person you met.

The wedding night: how it was in Russia

In Russia, the right to deprive a girl of her virginity traditionally belonged to her future husband. According to the church canons, a married marriage is sacred and any attempt on someone else's marriage bed is a great sin. Later, the feudal lords often ignored this law and used the right of the first wedding night, but the church did not welcome this.

The wedding night: how it was in Russia

Time of the event

The wedding ceremony in Russia was a complex sacrament that combined Christian and pagan traditions. The timing of the wedding was always carefully chosen. In many peoples of the world, the first coition of newlyweds could occur on the third or fourth day, or even later (some Muslim countries, India, etc.). 

The wedding night: how it was in Russia

For the Russians, the wedding night took place during the wedding celebration, so it was very important to schedule the wedding on the date allowed by the church. According to Orthodox laws, it is impossible to have sexual relations during Lent and on church holidays, so weddings were not scheduled for this time.

The ritual of preparing for the wedding night

The wedding night: how it was in Russia

The Russian people have long called the wedding night podkletom. This is due to the fact that the young people's bed was always arranged in a cool place: in the basement of the hut (pictured), a closet, a barn or a bath.

This always happened on the territory of the groom, because the girl after the wedding went to live with him. For the newlyweds, a high bed was prepared on a strong wooden base. It was covered with bedding from the girl's dowry. The preparation of the bed for the bride and groom was carried out by female bedwomen from among the matchmakers. Also, the bed could be prepared by the groom's mother or sister.

The wedding night: how it was in Russia

Many ritual objects were placed on the bed, which were supposed to protect the newlyweds from damage and provide them with a comfortable existence in the future. Such amulets included small rye sheaves, sacks of flour, mattresses, and feather beds. From above, the bed was covered with a snow-white embroidered bedspread. A few logs, a frying pan, a poker, and a juniper branch were placed under the bed of the bed-maker. These items were supposed to protect the couple from any evil spirits. The logs symbolized the future offspring, so they had to be put more.

Seeing off the newlyweds

The wedding night: how it was in Russia

In the "bedchamber" prepared in this way, the newlyweds were escorted by a whole crowd of guests: friends, matchmakers, relatives and in general anyone who wanted to participate in a noisy and fun action. The send-off was accompanied by songs, obscene jokes and advice. The friend beat the whip on the bed, expelling the evil spirits. Then he had to pay the ransom to the bedwomen.

In private

After all these rituals, the newlyweds were finally left alone. The door was locked, and a cell guard was left near it. He also had to protect the newlyweds from evil spells and various evil spirits. But the guests often stayed at the door and simply spied on the young people. 

The wedding night: how it was in Russia

Left alone, the bride and groom first treated themselves to bread and chicken. This food was supposed to give the couple fertility. After eating, the girl had to take off the guy's boots. Thus, she demonstrated humility in front of her future husband and showed her willingness to obey him in everything. Also, the girl had to ask her husband for permission to lie with him. Then the sexual act had to take place. My friend came to inquire about this several times. As soon as a girl lost her virginity, the marriage was considered physically confirmed, which was loudly announced to all guests. The young people could be brought back to the feast and delight them with songs of the most obscene content, or the guests themselves came to the podklet to the newlyweds and stayed there with them until dawn.

Innocence as the main attribute

The most important point in the whole ritual was the demonstration of the bride's shirt with blood stains. If the bride kept her virginity before the wedding, she was considered honest. Otherwise, she brought shame not only on herself, but also on her parents. A yoke was hung around the neck of the matchmaker and the parents of the dishonest newlywed. My father was served a glass of wine with a hole in the bottom. The girl could even be returned to her father's house. 

The wedding night: how it was in Russia

The loss of virginity on the wedding night was symbolically celebrated by hanging towels embroidered with red thread and smashing pots. After that, the girl became "young", and the guy - "young". After the wedding night, the young woman was dressed in the clothes of a married woman and put on her appropriate headdress. The whole ritual had to be strictly observed, otherwise the new family was threatened with infertility and poverty.

Keywords: Wedding | Russian federation | History | Traditions | Marriage | Sex | Russia

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