Two celebrations in one day – a Nunta and Hram!

As part of being a volunteer with the Peace Corps, we had to go back to our pre-service training sites for two weeks to complete our 8 weeks of training. And so I packed and re-packed what I could carry to the autogara to stay with my first host family in Magdacesti during the last phase of pre-service training.

I was so grateful to head back to visit them again as I feel very much at home when I am there and enjoy spending time with them. The day I arrived I had the opportunity to go with my host family to a Nunta, which is wedding ceremony. Their cousin was getting married and my host sisters were part of the festivities for the Nunta at the village Orthodox Church.

Once I arrived to their home that morning, the house was a flurry of activity between getting ready for the wedding ceremony and preparing a huge masa (party) to celebrate hram in the village. Hram is a big celebration in each village and city in Moldova as they celebrate when that particular village or city was established. Usually there is a festival in the center of town along with performances of singing and dancing and  people invite their friends from other villages and cities to come and visit and eat together in their homes.

About mid-morning we made our way to the local Orthodox Church while the church service was finishing. I got to experience a little bit of what a service is like in an Orthodox Church – more on that another time. Once the church service was over, the wedding ceremony started soon after.

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The bride & groom standing with their god parents and best man and maid of honor in the church.

When the wedding party entered the best man came in carrying a large rug along with others carrying in other aspects of the ceremony — baskets of candy, food, wine, and flowers. In the Orthodox Church women must cover their heads, hence the reason you see women with head coverings in some of these photos.

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My younger host sister and host mom during the ceremony. My host sister was handing out the handmade corsages and boutonnieres to the single ladies and gentlemen.

I was fascinated and intrigued by so many aspects of the ceremony that are part of the traditions of the Orthodox church and witnessed many of them that day. I wish I could tell you what is really going on in each picture, but I am limited with my language and the amount of new information and experiences that I have taken in recently. So, this experience will be from my perspective as seeing it through my eyes and maybe sometime later during my service I will be able to share more as I understand better.

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Their naș (godmother) is tying something to their wrists at this point. During the ceremony they have a married couple stand with them who will be their nașii (godparents) throughout their marriage.
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The priest ties their hands together with cloth as the couple holds tall candles.
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The priest reads/sings from a book (bible?) as the people behind him accompany him during certain parts.
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The bride and groom wear crowns that are placed on their heads by the priest during the ceremony. At this point they are circling the front of the church as young children throw candy. The table to the right was part of the service later in the ceremony.
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Here they are being led by the priest as they circle the front of the church and the young children throw candy.
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The priest holds the icon or Saint in a frame and a cross and continues to sing some more to bless their marriage. From my questioning and from what I understood, is that this icon or Saint is who the couple chose to have as part of their marriage and home.
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The couple is surrounded by friends and family as they gather around a small table with food on it and the priest throws holy water on them.
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After the ceremony people gathered briefly for some strawberries and toasted the couple individually with a champagne toast.
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All gathered for a group photo in the church after the ceremony, thus beginning the next couple of hours of photo taking for the day.
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As the couple exited the church friends and family threw rose petals and rice as they walked by.

The next 2 photos is something that I had heard about upon arriving in Moldova, but I hadn’t seen it happen until now – and I was even able to document it that day. What happens when someone throws water in front of a newlywed couple in Moldova?

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A woman throws a cup of water in front of the newlyweds — in Moldova if someone throws water in front of a bride and groom then the groom must throw money at that person. (see next photo for proof)
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After someone throws water in front of a bride & groom, then the groom must throw out some bani (money) – which is what this woman is then bending down to pick up.
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After the ceremony I went with my host sisters where they went with the bride and groom and some friends for wedding photos – we were gone for a long time. First to a photo studio where they took professional photos along with some fun props with their friends and then to a beautiful park in Chisinau where there had to have been over a dozen other couples who were there for wedding photos as well.
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Me with my host sisters at the beautiful park – my oldest host sister is wearing a white sash because she was part of the wedding serving as the maid of honor to the bride. Love these two!

After photos at the park we then made our way back to the village where they were having a big masa (dinner/party) at the groom’s house. I ended up not making it to that and instead went home with my youngest host sister where my host parents had some friends over for hram (day of celebration for the village) and sat with them and their many friends for hours as we ate lots of delicious food and toasted many times to good health.

Lots of variety and delicious food was served at the hramul masa at my host family home. I met lots of people and was able to gather about half of what they were talking about.
Lots of variety and delicious food was served at the hramul masa at my host family home. I met lots of people and was able to gather about half of what they were talking about.

It was a long and full day of celebrations – I was exhausted by evening and was excused to my room after I unintentionally started falling asleep at the table. Oops! It was a great way to learn more about Moldova’s culture and my host family – and it was a perfect way to start off my next phase of Peace Corps phase of training for the next 2 weeks.

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