Julie Venizelou
Handmade Creations - Greek Wedding Stefana
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Wedding Stefana: History and Procedures

The habitudes and traditions of Greek wedding originate from ancient times. The Greek Wedding Crowns (Stefana or Stephana or Stephania) were used in ancient Greece. The tradition of wedding crowns was held by the Orthodox Church till today. Before the ancient wedding ceremony the bride leaves her homestead by a coach pulled by donkeys (clinis) and she stands between the bridegroom (nymphios) and the paranymph, who is a relative or a close friend. They proceed together to the bridegroom’s home. During this passage, the bride was brilliantly plumed and perfumed. The couple was wearing the stefana made of various plants dedicated to Aphrodite (Venus) such as olive leaves, vine leaves and lemon flowers. In the area of Boeotia the stefana were made of asparagus, due to their symbolism: the bride and the bridegroom offer a sweet coexistence to each other, as the sweet fruit of asparagus comes out of tough thorns. Everyone accompanying the couple was wearing the same stefana. The whole picture was festive. The couple was wearing white dresses, signifying the absence of decay not only in their bodies but mainly in their relation.

Tin-plated copper.
10th century
Constantinople
Gilt silver and glass stones.
19th century
Filippoupolis

Later in the Christian times, the stefana of a traditional Greek wedding were made of lemon flowers in harmony with the wedding dress. The flowers were representing the virginity and the purity, due to their fragility and their sweet and soft aroma.

In Byzantine period the stefana were royal symbols and they were looking like royal crowns. They considered that the marriage is the creation of a new kingdom: the home and the family of the couple. According to this view the priest blesses the stefana above the Bible and he forms a cross sign above the heads of the bride and the bridegroom. He then prays in the name of God to give them glory and honor in their new little kingdom, to rule it with wisdom and justice. The wedding crowns remind also the stefana of the martyrs and the sacrifices that the couple has to make toward their perfection.

Today the stefana represent the connection of two people, the rings that connect the chains of their lives. The orthodox church uses the stefana to emphasize the holiness of the connection of the bride and the bridegroom (hieros gamos). For this reason the priest ties the ribbon of the stefana that have to remain together forever.

According to another interesting view, the stefana on the heads of the grooms symbolize the nimbus of the saints. The grooms have the opportunity to become saints during the wedding ceremony, since their purpose is the creation of a family, which is a saintly action. Later, during their wedlock, the couple is judged against the achievement of this holly goal.

Gilt silver.
19th century
Tarsos - Little Asia
Gilt silver and glass stones.
19th century
Little Asia

During the wedding ceremony and before the priest places the stefana at the heads of the grooms, the stefana are placed on a plate full of sugarplums. According to the tradition, the young girls take some sugarplums and place them below their pillow, expecting that at the third night they will dream the man that they will marry. The best man changes three times the wedding rings and then he changes three times the stefana. The stefana remain on the heads of the grooms until the end of the ceremony and during the Isaiah dance. The ribbon of the stefana has to be long enough, so the couple can easily move.

At the end of the ceremony, the parents of the bride and the bridegroom kiss the stefana and then the new-married couple. The priest ties the stefana and gives them to the couple. Many couples decide to place the stefana within an elegant case (stefanoteque, stefanothiki) on a wall of their home, to remember this happy moment of their lives and the promises of commitment they have exchanged.

The stefana – wedding crowns are one of the few objects of the ceremony that can be preserved as a memorial of the wedding not only to the couple but also to their distant descendants. For this reason we have chosen to make our stefana by unique materials that give out brilliance and at the same time they can be preserved for long time, such as precious metals, semiprecious stones and crystals. Our stefana are exclusively designed by Julie Venizelou, a graduate jewelry designer. Our collection of wedding stefana will match the aesthetics and the personality of the bride and will suite to her wedding dress.

[See our stefana collection...]

 

Contact us:
 

Julie Venizelou
Glyfada, Athens, Greece
e-mail: sales@stefana.info
Tel. (+30) 6938233066

 

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