Sunday, August 27, 2017

wedding day and night

I know that the Polish wedding conjures up images of revelry the likes of which you'll not see elsewhere. Of excess, of noise, of huge amounts of alcohol -- Vodka at the helm of it all.

Well, there are often grains of truth in such stereotypes, but to me, this is not what defines a wedding here. And although each wedding is different and you'll find every example of every type, as you would in the U.S., I think the bulk of Polish weddings have a soul and spirit that are uniquely Polish.

As you know if you've read earlier posts, I had the great pleasure of attending a wedding in Warsaw -- of two of my closest friends. Yes, sure, they're more or less my age and both have a marriage behind them and grown children (indeed grandchildren) to prove it, but a wedding is a wedding and theirs was one hell of a wedding! My feet are very, very sore.

So what might I put forth on Ocean to give you a sense of that Polish soul and spirit?

It is very hard to describe. And it doesn't help that I took very few pictures. Too busy dancing!

Maybe it's that a wedding (or rather the "wesele" -- the party after) is very much a group event. We come from many different corners of the couple's lives, yet we are not without knowledge of each other. We'll sit together, dance together, sing together.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

First let me introduce the couple -- I've known him since university years and her  -- well, just a few years, but the friendship extended to her immediately and with gusto!  He brings out the calm, she brings out the jovial. At least that's what it looks like to me. See for yourselves!


Whoa, here, she is calm and steady, he is jovial. You see how good traits rub off?


Family and friends gather. And everyone dresses up. I mean seriously so!

(Here's part of my small group of very special friends...)


Now comes the official part -- at a church or the administrative office. Take your pick. This wedding was at the administrative office. There are seats, but most stand because the marriage, done by the officiating person, is not super long. Maybe ten minutes.

This officiating person performed the ceremony with heart. You felt that she really wanted them to have a rich and happy life.


There were the vows, the exchange of rings, the signing of the papers. Someone played a few melodies on a keyboard at the side.

And boom! They're married.

Congratulations, you two!!

We pile into cars or a bus and make our way to a small hamlet just outside the city, where a restaurant has been transformed into a wedding venue. Can you tell we're at the edge of a beautiful forest?


The table is set (it's one big table with octopus like arms), we go inside. Toasts follow. There is wine, but, too, there is vodka, iced, of course. A shot for every toast. Very few women indulge.


The meal comes next. In this case, duck. So Polish! But hey, just because there is a dinner, doesn't mean that this is the only food for us all. There will be a second wave of eating in a few hours (pates, Greek salads, etc). And then, several hours later, a third wave of eating (goulash -- a Hungarian stew). In between, there is the cake. Wines and juices throughout.

Did I mention that there is from the getgo a lot of singing: traditional celebratory and congratulatory songs. An impresario (for lack of a better term) makes sure we remember to sing.

Dancing. The couple leads with a finely choreographed dance. I was impressed.


And by the way, the norms are that the men keep their jackets on until the groom frees them from this obligation. Here he is saying -- jackets off, guys!


It is a warm and beautiful evening. The restaurant opens out onto a patio and small groups of friends form. This is the time to catch up with those you haven't seen for a while. Surely that's the case for me, as we do have one friend from the old pack who lives outside Warsaw and so I almost never run into him when I am in town.

But for a great deal of the time, I dance. It's been a few years: I danced last at my daughter's wedding and the time before -- at my other daughter's wedding. When I was young, I had a ton of energy for dancing. I mean, it was excessive.

Things haven't changed in that department.

The rest of the evening is a blur of disco pop and plain old pop -- American, Spanish, Polish, Swedish. Phenomenal dancing music! How can you not go wild?!


But my friends (oh, I will miss these guys in the months ahead!)  remind me that it's nearly midnight. The party will continue for a long long time, but I have to be heading home. To pack up the last bag, to make sure the apartment is put into rest mode. And to shower! Dancing requires a few moments under a steady flow of cool water.

I sleep for an hour or two and then I hop into a taxi and catch a sunrise flight to Amsterdam.

in flight-2.jpg

Misty Holland..

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I'm posting this from the airport there. Late this afternoon, I should be in Madison.