Bessarabien: Heimat im Bild
Heimatmuseum der Deutschen aus Bessarabien, Stuttgart,
Usually 80 to 100 invited guests came to a wedding.
Typically, the wedding reception was celebrated in the home of the
bride's parents. Some rooms were cleared for the dinner. A pavilion
tent was frequently erected outdoors. The incurred expenses were
covered by the parents of both bride and groom.
Baking began as early as Sunday evening. Hogs and
poultry were butchered on Monday and Tuesday to prepare a good chicken
soup for the wedding and to ensure a good pork roast. Tischbuben
and Geschirrmädchen went into action on Wednesday. They brought
the necessary tables and chairs from relatives while the girls gathered
the necessary silverware, plates, cups, glasses and what was needed
to set the wedding table.
The Tischbuben had adorned their horses with colorful
ribbons. They put a leather strap with small hawk bells around the
horses' necks to draw attention from afar. Cracking the whip and
pranking notions contributed greatly. The merrier and happier the
Tischbuben were, the more a happy wedding was expected: a wedding
in which the parish participated. The Tischbuben were anxious to
gather the tables and the chairs in the morning, so that they could
help their Geschirrmädchen in the afternoon getting the table china.
The Tischbuben harnessed the horses and urged the
horses to travel faster to show-off with great pride and joy to
the Geschirrmädchen, while parading through the streets. Their joyful
laughter and whistling, as well as their joking notions and skillful
cracking of the whips, attracted not only the curious youth but
also adults in the streets who participated in this merry event.
On Wednesday evening, the invited bridesmaids and
groomsmen met on the evening of the wedding celebration. On this
occasion the boys chose their girls for the next day. They went
home early to rest, because the next day required hard work.
Final details were completed on Thursday morning,
so everything was ready for the wedding guests who often were invited
for 2 p.m.
The boys and girls had already been invited during
the week after the first public announcement. The "Kartenbuben",
who delivered the printed or handwritten invitations, took care
of inviting the other guests. To them it was an honorary task; and
as appreciation, they were allowed one ride through the village
in the wedding carriage. The "Häfa-Mädele", school girls, who assisted
the "Geschirrmädchen" were honored in this way.
The guests as well as the boys and girls were gathered
at 1:30 p.m. Now all were waiting with great expectation for the
bride and groom who were picked up by a seamstress or by a good
friend of the bride and taken to the house in the wedding carriage
decorated with flowers. All eyes were on the young couple who were
marveled and admired by all. The bride wore a white long dress [with
traditional white waist sash], with a long veil and a wedding wreath
in her hair. The groom had a boutonniere on his left lapel and usually
wore a dark, black suit with a white shirt, a gift of the bride,
with a festive neck tie or bow tie. The dress of the bride and the
white gloves were a gift of the groom who was always seeking prized
material from which the bride herself could select.
After coffee and kuchen, the sexton teacher or another
teacher from among the relatives presented a speech. The wedding
procession formed upon hearing the tower bell. The bridal couple
went ahead; the man who gives away the bride and the bridesmaids
followed in pairs. They all carried a bouquet of flowers. Then the
parents of the bridal couple, followed by the invited guests.
They marched to church when the tower bells rang.
Onlookers waited at the church entrance; they stood at both sides
to form a guard of honor. Many of them followed the wedding procession
into the church sanctuary and took part in the celebration; others
waited outside the church until the bridal couple completed their
Without mentioning entire details of the ceremony
itself, highlights included the wedding anthem "Jesu geh voran",
sung and accompanied by a pipe organ which was played at all ceremonies.
Towards the end of the ceremony, the minister placed the wedding
band first on the right ring finger of the bride, and then on the
groom, as an outward sign of an eternal bond. Also, divorces rarely
occurred in Sarata during 125 years because "what God has joined
together, man shall not separate" was taken very seriously and often
conquered a quarrel in a marriage.
After returning from the church, guests wished the
wedding couple well. Each guest did this in person. Afterwards the
couple drove to a photographer. In most cases, a photo of the wedding
guests was taken.
During spare time, one hour, was used by the youth
to play like "wutt wutt von herum..., der Bauer nahm sich ein Weib,
..." The large house yard was ideal for such games where the young
boys could prove their skill and speed. They were singing, joking
The adults watched the youth or talked at the tables.
Cookies, kuchen and wine were available to all.
The wedding feast was ready toward 7 p.m. Meanwhile,
the minister arrived to pray the meal blessing. The young people
were gathered in the parlor room, the adults in the family room
and the children in the large living room. There was room for everyone
to feel comfortable. The couple sat at the head of the table with
the boys and girls to their sides. Fathers and mothers had everything
well prepared; they looked after their guests themselves. The dinner
servers were to care for the food and the service. The cook was
busy in the kitchen preparing good chicken-noodle soup, the pork
roast and especially rice pudding with raisins. Some cooks gained
quite a reputation for culinary skills.
The servers with their long, white aprons and wide,
white sashes on shoulders and chest were always striving for a joyous
and merry spirit. The good wines were praised, not desiring if somebody
had drunk more than he could handle. Drunkenness never occurred
at a well-conducted wedding banquet, even when great happiness was
There was much talking and singing after the meal.
Children of relatives recited poems as good wishes. During this
time, the bridegroom had to be watchful that the bride's wedding
shoe was not stolen; otherwise he would have to redeem it in ransom.
The "Sakuska", a cold meal, plus more, platter was
served at 9:30 p.m. Here local specialties were served: Pepper sauce,
"Ikra", vinaigrette, "Maslinen" (black olives), various sausages/cold
cuts, ham baked in bread, boiled Bessarabian brats served cold,
smoked goose thighs and goose breasts, and finally liver pate. The
minister leaves at 10 p.m. after he had taken monetary donations
for the benevolent institution 'Alexander-Asyl' by passing a plate.
This signaled an indication to start dancing, for
which the youth were anticipating. A button accordion was playing.
Dancing was not desired at all weddings but was tolerated. The youth
wanted to dance and were merry. Even older couples could not resist
dancing to the 'Saratzki' and the 'Oira'.
At midnight, the great moment had come when the bride
was 'abgekränzt' [uncrowned]. First, the girls formed a circle within
which the bride sat on a chair. When the song 'Schön ist die Jugend'
was sung and the girls danced in the circle, the bride was 'abgekränzt'.
When the bride held the wreath, she was blindfolded, the singing
stopped and upon a signal with her hand the girls stopped in the
circle. Now the bride approached one of the girls and whomever she
touched with her hand first received the wreath. This was accompanied
by hand clapping because it signified that this girl was to be the
next bride. Now the same was repeated by the groom being in the
center of the circle of boys, who sought out blindfolded one of
the boys by placing the boutonniere on his chest. The two "Begränzte"
danced the honor dance drawing applause from the wedding guests.
The wedding celebration was not over, however. Soon afterwards the
couple took leave and retreated to their new home, while those with
never-tiring enthusiasm danced until early morning.
On Friday morning, the helpers especially the "Tischbuben"
and the "Geschirrmädchen" were busy. They must return the tables
and chairs and the meal dishes. Then everything must be prepared
for the next afternoon's celebrative gathering.
On Friday afternoon, the boys and girls arrived again
at the home for the "wedding after", "Hochzeit vergraba". They brought
wedding gifts which were displayed on a table for viewing. There
were many gifts so that most anything was not lacking in the new
household. A few gifting strategies had been made. Prankster gifts
were not missing either.
The young couple must serve their guests at the "wedding
after". It was a matter of honor for the young wife and the newly-wed
husband to serve hospitality to their first guests with best ability.
This was not difficult because everything was well-planned.
On Sunday afternoon, the young couple received their
first guests in their own home. The new furniture and furnishings,
as well as the dowry, were admired at this visit. The bride brought
with her as dowry: furniture for the kitchen and home as well as
the necessary bedding and linens.
Translation from German to English by Brigitte von Budde,
Fargo, North Dakota.
|Bessarabia: The couple Immanuel Wagner and
Elisabeth nee Rüb. Sarata, 1898
||Bessarabia: Couple at the end of the 19th/early
|Bessarabia: The couple Artur Kroll and Irma
nee Renz, Arzis/Demir-Chadschi, 1928
||Bessarabia: Couples Broß and Weispfenning,