Monday, July 30, 2007

A Jordanian Christian Wedding

We have been in the village of Simakiyya for just a few weeks and have had an amazing experience and made lots of friends. We have been welcomed so warmly by the people there and have been busy every day visiting people. These visits always include some food and we have been eating spectacular meals of chicken and rice, grape leaves and squash stuffed with rice and lamb, and drinking mint tea full of sugar and so much coffee that we are both in heaven! So, it was no surprise that this weekend when a wedding was happening we were invited.

Weddings here are a two day affair. The night before the ceremony there is a sahar--which literally means visiting into the late hours. Everyone is invited to a party that starts around 7 in the evening and lasts until the wee hours of the morning. It usually happens outside under big colorful tents, and a full dinner is served. For this sahar a tent was placed in the church courtyard, and the meal began with appetizers of mixed nuts, hummus, tabbouleh, olives and other yummy middle eastern dips. Then a chicken and rice dish was served, followed by a dessert. There were fireworks blasted from the roof above us--the shards floated down into our hair and food--and singing and dancing.

Matt sitting under the tent.

The next day is the wedding ceremony. However, before the actual ceremony a big lunch of the national dish--mansef--is served. For this wedding this happened under the tents where we had the party the previous evening. Mansef is seasoned rice piled high on a huge circular tray with lamb meat on top--including the head of the lamb pointed straight up in the middle--with thin, hot yogurt poured over everything. Everyone eats from the same tray and you eat with your right hand, forming the rice and meat into a ball and popping it into your mouth. Some people used spoons--especially those who have moved from the countryside to Amman (and Matt)--but everyone was so happy to see Annamarie eating with her hand. It is very HOT and sometimes hard to get rice and a piece of lamb balled up in your hand and to flip it into your mouth, but it is fun and so delicious.

The hot yogurt being poured over the mansef.

After the meal everyone goes home for a few hours to rest and change clothes, and than the ceremonies start. The bride is at her home dressed and ready for the ceremony with her family. Usually this means that she spent most of the day at the beauty salon getting ready and therefore wasn't at the lunch. During this time a large group follows the groom back to his house, where he is hoisted on the shoulders of someone strong and literally dressed for the wedding. In the midst of drumming and the singing of traditional songs, the clothes he wore to the lunch are taken off and his wedding suit is put on. Some of the songs even have to do with exactly which type of clothing is being put on at the moment.

After all of this, the groom and his family go to the bride's house, singing and clapping as they arrive. The bride's family escorts her out of the house and the groom takes her to the church in the most expensive car they can find, which is covered with flowers on the hood and the trunk. Other people going to the wedding follow the car through the streets to the church--honking and singing along the way. Once the couple is at the church they are met outside by everyone and the men sing and play drums as the couple enter. The ceremony then takes place and they are married.

We had a great time celebrating with everyone!

The bride leaving her home to get married.

The men singing and drumming to the bride and groom - they are inside the circle of people.

The groom and bride right before they entered the church for the wedding ceremony.

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