The Babushka Dance
The Babushka Dance is also called the Apron dance. It's an old custom in most of the Slavic countries. I know in Eastern Slovakia, a young lady who was considered eligble for marriage was given a "Parte" to wear.
This was a symbol to all the people of the village. "Parte" were different from village to village but, were usually made of ribbons and sequins, glass beads, anything shiny because shiny things chased away the evil eye.
The young girl wore the Parte every time she went to church or to town or to a social gathering. On her night before her wedding day, all of her girl friends, sisters and female cousins would gather and weave a crown of flowers for her to wear to the church.
After the church service, at the reception as we know it, her mother, godmother, and grandmother would parade her around the room and sit her on a chair placed in the center. They would take off the bride's veil and then put a babushka on the bride
A bridal dance would start. and as everyone danced with the bride they would form a circle around the bride and at the end the groom had to fight his way through the circle to take his bride away.
Ron Petock writes The weddings that I remember in the Hazelton area, after the bridal dance, the brides ( male representatives , brothers, cousins ) steal her, bodily take her away, because of the afront, due to not enough money in the apron. Then there is a ransom by the grooms side. (maybe a little fisticuffs, to show the worth of the bride) After the collection of more money, the bride is given back to the groom. That happened at the wedding, that begot Georgei Malitz, who is now the Byzantine Catholic priest at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Manhattan, NY. I was in the Groom's party at this wedding.
In recent years, it has become more and more common to omit the babushka, and just have the bride's mother remove the veil, then hand the bride over to the groom.
A variation is the Apron Dance where the Bride would put on an old apron, and the men danced with her and put money in the apron pockets.
The women danced with her husband, and put money in his pockets.
Special thanks to Mark Jesko for contributing to this article.
We have several arrangements of the Slovak wedding song available at the Slovak Music Shop.
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Graphics by Lori's Heavenly CreationsRjadovji (Bridal Dance) courtesy of Randall Kopchak and Jam Publications