Introduction

The representation of the Lefkadian traditional wedding is a the three-day event. It is one of the most important cultural events in the Prefecture of Lefkada. It takes place in Karya annually, usually on the first week of August.

Karya

Karya is one of the biggest villages of Lefkada Island. You can find it on one of the highest spot of the island. During the hot days of summer,  it is an ideal place to spend a morning, an afternoon or an evening. In fact here the temperature is always fresh. Moreover there is a lovely square with big plane trees where you can enjoy a drink or a meal in one of the many traditional taverns. 

The main square of Karya Lefkada
Main square of Karya Lefkada

Karya and its surrounding area are also the perfect area for those who, during their holiday, like to choose an accommodation “off the beaten track”.

Karya Lefkada
Karya Lefkada, view from above

In Karya you can also find nice souvenirs to bring to your family or friends. Karya is in fact famous for its hand-made embroidery tradition, known as “karisianika”. This lovely mountainous village is also famous for its Folklore Museum. And, of course, for holding the representation of the Lefkadian traditional wedding.

Karya Lefkada Karsaniko handcraft
Karya Lefkada Karsaniko handcraft

History of the representation
The first representation of the Lefkadian traditional wedding in Karya was in 1954. The event was the spark for the planning of the “Celebrations of Literature and Art” in Lefkada. This is another important event, based on the idea of Tzevelekis Anthony, which takes place in Lefkada Island every summer, since 1955.

In 1977, Nestor Matsas filmed the representation of the Lefkadian traditional wedding.

Since 1979 till today, the event takes place regularly on an annual basis. The majority of Karya residents and a large number of volunteers, mainly young people, participate and contribute to the realization of  this beautiful traditional event.

The Lefkadian traditional wedding representation

The representation of the Lefkadian traditional wedding in Karya lasts 3 days. It is a great opportunity to see live the traditions of the island of Lefkada. All the participants are dressed with traditional costumes and there is also traditional live and dance music, during the performance and during the banquets. Many locals participate to the wedding re-enactment that is overseen and performed mainly by the members and supporters of the cultural and dance association “Apollon”.

The Lefkadian traditional wedding representation in Karya is divided in 3 days.  So let’s see in details what happens in this charming traditional event.

The First Day 

On the first day there is a stage re-enactment of all the preparations preceding the marriage and the wedding feast. The customs prior to the effective ceremony are are many and presented in chronological order.  

The match-making and the marriage contract.

The village matchmaker goes to the bride’s house. Here he announces to her father on behalf of the young man’s family, their interest in the young girl.  After this, the parents of both parties come into contact and arrange the dowry. Then, usually, the village priest or teacher draws up the marriage contract:  a written agreement between the two families, which includes every item the bride will receive as dowry.  

The engagement.

The family of the groom goes to the bride’s home. They bring gifts and the “ornaments”: the jewels that the bride will wear during the wedding ceremony.

The washing of the wool.

The wool, from sheep’s hair,  is used to fill the mattresses and pillows. These constitute the trousseau of the bride.  During the representation of the marriage, some women on stage load the wool into large baskets and then on their heads. While singing, they take the wool to be washed in the village water source, situated by the side of the main square of Karya.  After they have washed the wool, they load it onto the back of horses and take it to the house of the bride. During this ritual the performance is accompanied by musicians.

Traditional Wedding Karya Lefkada
Lefkadian Marriage Karya
The leavenings.

During this ritual the yeast for the “Koulouria” (cake rolls) is prepared. At the feast following the marriage ceremony, Koulouria will be offered to the guests.

The pinnings. 

The pinnings consists in the ritual of survey of the bride’s trousseau. As a rule, the women of the village carry out this process. The groom also participates. The groom reads the items in the marriage contract, and calls to the women to present them by holding them up one by one.  After this, the women, as good luck to the couple-to-be,  embroider a red thread into the trousseau. From this last action the name “pinnings” given to the entire ritual.

The Second Day

On the second day of the representation the marriage ceremony and wedding feast take place.  The bride and the groom, accompanied by the priest and the Koumbaros (best man) go to the bride’s home. In this traditional stone built house the priest celebrates the marriage, as it was done in the past. There are musicians and a large crowd of locals wearing traditional costumes. 

When the ceremony is over, the celebrants load the trousseau of the bride onto horses and bring it to the groom’s house. Here is where the new couple will live from now on.

After this, in the main square of Karya there is a traditional feast with dances and folk music 

The Third Day

On the third day, the representation of the Lefkadian traditional wedding ends with the custom of the “wedding cake” and the wedding feast. The first is about the making of the traditional Lefkadian olive-oil pie. This is a sweet that is made exclusively in Lefkada Island. Lefkadians eat it in all the important and significant moments of their social and family life.
The preparation of the traditional Lefkadian olive-oil pie takes place in front of the eyes of all attendees. Once the cake is ready it is shared with all the participants.

Olive oil pie Lefkada
Lefkada Olive oil pie

At the end of the event during which the wedding cake is prepared, a traditional orchestra plays in the central square of Lefkada. The actors of the re-enactment and the spectators dance all together and eat fresh made souvlaki.

A last consideration…..

The island of Lefkada is a place where you can enjoy beautiful beaches, visit traditional villages, experience local culture and traditions, or assist to the representation of a traditional wedding such as the one in Karya.

In the last few years the island has become a tourist attraction not only for a variety of travellers with different taste and budgets.  The so called “emerald island” has turned also into a coveted destination for those couples who have the dream to get married on a Greek Island.

Should you be one of those please get in contact with us. We will be happy to help you make your dream come true!