Crete and summertime, for the locals, means weddings. Each Cretan says that during a season they may be invited to over 40-50 weddings (!). They must have saved enough money to give presents to the newlyweds. In a place such as Anogia, which is the highest village in Crete, on Psiloritis mountain, most of the weddings, if not all of them, are made in the traditional Cretan way. In most of these weddings, the whole village of 2 to 2500 people is invited.
I was invited by my company to a wedding. These weddings have different events for two, three or more days. A small lamb genocide takes place for such a wedding. From what I heard, something between 300 to 400 lambs were slain for this event. Anogia is very famous in Crete for having many farms with lambs and many of the inhabitants are shepherds. I will describe my experience for the wedding day in this post.
As with making images in any wedding, I stayed at the bride-to-be place, as I expected to see more preparation and costumes. The bride and the bridesmaids were preparing at their cafe which was near the bride's home. Everyone taking part in the wedding wears traditional Cretan clothes.
The men in the bride's place were also being prepared, wearing the traditional 'Vraka' as pants and the black tall boots (Stivania), with a black shirt. Many Cretans have dressed always in black, which is the case in Anogia village. It signifies the mourning for people lost over the wars. People in Anogia have a good reason for that, as the town was burned to the ground three times over the course of its life, by enemy forces.
Bearing arms is also very common in Anogia, that is usually a Cretan knife. The only hint of joy during the wedding is the white handmade scarf (Mantilla) that men wear on their shoulders. Some visitor friends who came from other places wore other kinds of clothes, like different colour shirts or short pants and they became the object of mockery by the local Cretans.
When everyone was prepared, I asked them to take a trip to the roof of the place so we could make some pictures of the bride's party wearing their clothes. It was a nice spot as you could see mount Psiloritis in the background. They even danced a bit which was really nice of them!
It was the time when the groom with his friends and relatives would come to the bride's place. The house was guarded by the men of the bride's family so that the groom's party could not approach.
Along the way, between the two houses, I had a quick opportunity to meet Lefteris in his cafe. A place that looked so interesting to me. Lefteris is a shepherd and keeps this cosy cafe with his wife. I saw him play the solitaire and spoke to him.
After this small break, I joined back at the wedding event. The groom's party had to enter the bride's house and steal a pot of basil on the home's balcony, to prove their worth. I took a fantastic place to make images, in between the two opposing parties. I wasn't feeling so smart at this point. The men got in a strong fight that I didn't saw coming, I even got punched and pushed around a few times, but I was happy I saw an image in my viewfinder!
The groom arrived and the bride was ready to be handed over to him by her family. Everyone together formed a big parade and off they went to the church.
The wedding took place in a small church in the centre of the town and there was a big feast at a local reception centre. There was more food than what you could ever possibly eat and a lot of Cretan dancing to live music. As with many weddings in Greece, some foreign traditions also took place, like the throwing of the bouquet. Are these new customs an alteration of tradition, or an evolvement? I don't know if I can ever decide. But even if I did, I don't know if that decision could change anything. Time will show.