In Karpathos, wedding preparations are not only for the rejoicing of the natives’ nuptials, but also for the gathering of the prodigal sons and daughters who return to their ancestral home to take part in the island’s customs and traditions with family. The breathtaking scenic backdrop and lush (yet affordable) reception make attending a glorious Greek-island destination wedding an undeniable vacation bonus.
Krevati (κρεβάτι, pronounced kreh-VAH-tee) means “bed” in Greek, but it’s also the term used on the southern Greek islands to describe the preparation of a wedding, in particular the couple’s new home (including the bed), with each island imparting slight nuances in the details of this custom.
Typically, the night before a couple gets married in Karpathos, the family is invited to the newlyweds’ house for a "krevati" where they decorate the dwelling and their new bed to make it festive for the couple’s arrival.
The elaborate preparation comes in the form of a procession as goods are carried through the village and up to the house. It is adorned with beautiful bedspreads and fabrics that were embroidered, crocheted, and knitted by grandmothers (γιαγιάδες, yiayiades), mom’s (μητέρες, miteres), aunts (θείες, thies), and cousins (ξαδέλφια, ksadelfia) after the engagement was announced.
A traditional large wooden pillar in the center of the house supports the roof beam, symbolizing the support of the family. This pillar is decked out with silk fabrics embellished with colorful needlework for the wedding (as is the bride) and other special celebrations—this is every Karpathian’s opportunity to take home-décor to the extreme, representing their richness in hospitality.
Sumptuous island dishes, exotic beverages, and delectable pastries fill the dinner menus that extend that richness to the colorfully-adorned guests as they gather for this joyous decorating occasion.
Weddings are a particularly festive island event in Karpathos where everyone, including visitors, is invited to partake not only in the couple’s joyous ceremony but also in the food event to follow, seating up to 900 people in a barn-like structure standing in as a hall.
The bride wore the traditional embellished Karpathian dress, and crowns were exchanged during the ceremony. Immediately following the mass, the close family of the couple pinned large gold pieces on the lapel of the groom’s jacket and on a bib worn over the bride’s gown. This centuries-old custom of giving gold is meant to sustain the couple in times of financial hardship (gold pieces such as these were saved by our grandmother and were used to feed the family during the Great Depression and WW2).
After the eating came the mantinades (μαντινάδες), each a melding of folk song and rhymes. Mantinades are the true spirit of the people of Karpathos, written by the parents and close family of the bride and groom. These lyrical poems, read by the authors, contain heartfelt wishes and blessings for the couple, as well as reflect on their lives as children, while conveying the love felt for each of them. This is all followed by tears of joy, hugs, and the final phase of the evening, dancing!
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