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Bread and Salt

June 30, 2014

These flowers arrived the other day. A gift from my plumber.

wilson

A few weeks ago, Terry Wilson, the owner of the plumbing company that takes very good care of us, called with an unusual request. His daughter was getting married in California to a young man from a Russian family. Some members of the young man’s family spoke very little English, and he wanted to be able to congratulate the young couple in Russian. “Just a couple simple words for the occasion,” he asked.

My plumber is a romantic! So am I. Terry called just as Judith and I we about to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. Romance was in the air.

I wrote out a toast to the newlyweds in Russian and transcribed it phonetically. I selected easier words, and managed to weave together a toast that spoke of love and happiness and bread and salt. I practiced on Judith – she did very well after just a couple tries. So I sent Terry the texts, Russian, English, phonetic English. Then I recorded the toast on his cell phone voice mail so that he could listen and parrot me. Off he went on the airplane.

The card that came with the flowers said that everything went wonderfully and that the Russians were very impressed with him. Bravo, Terry, молодец!

Russian wedding traditions

It is traditional for a bride and groom to be presented with bread and salt on their wedding day. The bread represents the wish that they would always have sustenance. Salt adds savor, but it is also a preservative, and it represents the wish that the joy and love they have today will last a long time.   Polish people observe the same tradition. Here are Judith and me at our son’s wedding a number of years ago, presenting bread and salt to Chris and Risa.

khleb sol0001

At some point at the reception at Russian weddings (and at Polish weddings too), someone will start to chant – горько! горько! – (“It’s bitter! It’s bitter!”). This is a symbolic way of saying that life is bitter, and that the sweetness of the kiss of newlyweds will chase the bitterness away. So the newlyweds will kiss, everyone will cheer, down a shot, and wait for the next горько! горько!

Joe

 

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From → On life and love

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