Monday, November 29, 2010

Last word on the Wedding—The Nuptial Bed

     Thanksgiving pie-baking chores sidetracked me, but now I have to share the last word (I promise) on Eleni and Emilio’s 10-10-10 wedding in Corfu Greece. 

     Because Eleni majored in folklore and mythology, she loves every tradition and honored the Greek pre-wedding ritual of having the ladies prepare the wedding bed two days before the ceremony.  This happened on Friday in a suite at the Corfu Palace Hotel where the women (especially the single ladies) gathered in one room to sing, drink and prepare the connubial bed, while in the other room and on the balcony, champagne and cocktails were enjoyed by those who aren’t into bed-making (although by tradition the first single lady who gets a pillowcase on the bed with be the next to marry).
Emilio threw himself into the groom’s role of storming into the room three times and tearing the bed apart, saying the preparations were unsatisfactory.

Then, satisfied with the fourth effort, he approved.

Next came the bouncing of children on the bed—if a boy is desired first, toss on a boy baby…you get the idea…but in Eleni’s case it was five children, both boys and girls, who happily bounced.

The ladies began throwing flower petals, rice, Jordan almonds (because they are both sweet and bitter, like life) and money, including some gold sovereigns from the bride’s family  (part of her dowry) onto the prepared bed.  Here’s Emilio’s mother, Carmen, throwing rice.

Finally Eleni and Emilio posed on the bed among their newly acquired wealth as everyone snapped photos.The bed remained decorated until their wedding night when they managed to spill everything onto the floor (not the money)  leaving the hotel maids a big mess to clean up.

The next night, Saturday, was the most “Mama Mia” moment, when Emilio and his family hosted a Welcome Dinner for everyone on the tiny island of Vidos, just a ten-minute boat ride from Corfu Town’s old harbor.

Everyone  boarded the couple’s  “Love Boat” which scuttled back and forth throughout the night, piloted by Captain Onoufrios.

Vidos Island was once  an army base for 200,000 Serbian soldiers, then a juvenile reform facility and is now a government-owned camping grounds which includes lovely beaches, one uninhabited mansion and a seaside  taverna named for its eccentric owner, Mr. Menios.

     One of the surreal things about the island is that rabbits and pheasants have proliferated  until they come by the hundreds to welcome visitors, because Menios feeds them at sunset every night.

 Three-year-old Sophia was entranced with feeding the rabbits. 

All of us loved the Greek musicians and singers supplied by Menios. 

After plenty of Menios's Pastitsada and Sofrito and homemade wine, dancing broke out of the taverna and extended down to the seashore until the group of 100 re-boarded the Love Boat and sailed back to the mainland to prepare for the big day: Sunday—and the two wedding ceremonies (Catholic and Greek Orthodox) to be followed by the reception at the Corfu Sailing Club.

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