<< February 2020 >>
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Chris Slatter

My Blog


A Polish Wedding


Rune of the Day: Sowelu, the Sun
The road was guarded by a succession of people, most on bicycles, some on foot, two in a huge motorised bale elevator – a gauntlet of human sentinels stretching for a kilometre and with one ambition – to give good wishes and receive vodka. This was a small town in Poland and the event was a wedding.
Many reading this will be surprised to learn that any Pole can stop a wedding car transporting the bride to or from church and receive a bottle of vodka in return for a greeting. In fact, we know so little about this fascinating nation that I thought I would describe my experiences when I attended the wedding of my son a week ago.
But first, a quiz: how many famous Poles can you name? The film directors Roman  Polanski and Jerzy Skolimowski, of course and less obviously Fryderyk Chopin, the composer. Marie Curie’s parents were both Polish, as were those of Nicolaus Copernicus, the father of modern astronomy. Henryk Sienkiewicz, novelist and Nobel Prize Winner was a Pole as were Lech Walesa and Pope John Paul II, two of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. There are thousands more, less well known, but still distinguished.
Like you, I was aware of the first few names, but woefully ignorant of anything else. Americans have been familiar with Polish people for decades through immigration, but in Britain you may not have been aware of the Poles until 2004 when membership of the European Union saw thousands of them go over to try their luck and successfully settle.
So it was with some apprehension and considerable curiosity that I took a plane to Wroclaw and then a minivan provided by the bride’s family for the guests from other parts of Europe to Ostrow Wielkopolski, a small town around 80 kilometres away.
I had been told that Polish weddings last for two days, but I had not been told about many of the rituals. The wedding party, that is all the guests, were first taken to the bride’s home to collect her and take her to church. I was expected to bless the bride and groom at this juncture and they dutifully knelt before me and my wife and the bride’s parents. I had never administered a blessing before, in fact, I thought blessings were solely the function of church officials, so I had to hurriedly make something up. I hope it was acceptable, by the way.
After the service, conducted in Polish and English by the priest who switched back and forth most impressively, we were transported in convoy to the wedding reception.
It was a journey interrupted many times by the previously mentioned well wishers on the road.
At the reception held at the motel where we had been generously put up there was live music, a trio who belted out songs in Polish and Russian, many of them local standards which I had never heard before. And another surprise – all of the Polish guests could dance. I don’t mean shuffling around the room clinging to your partner, or jiggling around in some laughable attempt to show rhythm, but real dancing with dipping and coordinated movements. It was as if we had stumbled into a Strictly Come Dancing dress rehearsal.
There were many rituals to be observed: the throwing of the veil by the bride, the casting of the corsage by the groom, the presentation of gifts to the parents of the bride and groom. And naturally there were numerous vodka toasts. “Na zdrowie!” we called to each other time and again.
Ten hours later we lurched into the dawn. And ten hours after that, we returned to do it all over again.  

Share |

Subscribe to RSS

About Me

I have been an advertising copywriter, film director, teacher of screenwriting and a television producer. I have worked for some of the world's largest advertising agencies in Australia and the UK before attending the London Film School for two years.

---- page separator ----

Recent Posts

---- page separator ----

Popular Tags

---- page separator ----