When it comes to weddings and other ceremonies associated with the ancient Greeks, various symbolisms can be found throughout their matrimonial practices. Within the ancient Greek city-states, you will find that Sparta and Athens during this time period differs in terms of approaching a wedding.
For ancient Athenians, the wedding didn’t start to kick off until the sun had set and it was dark. First, the bride would travel from her house to the home of the man she was about to marry. The woman always wore a veil during this time and the mode of transportation during this part of the ceremony was by way of chariot. Walking behind, her family followed the wedding chariot. In their arms and hands, they carried the gifts to give to the newly married. Since it was dark during this time, there needed to be some sort of illumination for this ceremony to take place. The friends of the married couple-to-be accomplished this task. They carried torches while others played music. The music was an attempt to scare away any evil spirits that may be lurking in the darkness.
As part of the wedding ceremony, the bride would eat an apple or another kind of fruit. This symbolized that her husband would be providing her with the basic necessities of life, including food and shelter. While today, we give toasters, blenders and silver serving trays; the ancient Greeks gave different types of gifts. Some of the gifts that an ancient Greek wedding couple may receive include mirrors, perfume, jewelry, as well as furniture. Sometimes vases with a green arrangement were also given.
As for the ancient Spartans, they didn’t waste any time with a long, walk or ride throughout the town. The wedding ceremony was short and sweet, kept rather simple. A back-and-forth display of strength was showcased, although it was the groom whose power shined. Once he proved that he was the superior half of the couple, he would toss his bride over his shoulder and carry her off into the sunset.
One thing that the ancient Greeks took to heart was the art of dancing. The ancient Greeks viewed dancing as a way to increase physical strength, as well as emotional health. During this time period, there were no couples dancing; it was not uncommon to see men and women dancing separately. Some dances during this time were gender specific. Some were mainly for men, while others suited the women. It is said that there were more than 200 ancient Greek dances with a variety of purposes.
For those who craved entertainment, there were comic dances to display. Whether it was to celebrate a triumph over another city-state or to prepare for battle, there were dances depicting warlike concepts. Some dances were created for athletes, while others were meant to embrace religious worship. The list goes on and on, including dances for funerals, weddings, as well as other kinds of celebrations. To accommodate these dances, the music was provided by a wide-range of instruments, such as flutes, lyres, cymbals, tambourines, as well as castanets.