Albanian weddings are raucous affairs. They have many traditional elements which in recent years, have been blended with modern Northern European sensibilities. Today, we’re going to look at some of these and explore all things wedding and love-related in Albania.
What Are Some Albanian Wedding Traditions?
The wedding ceremony involves many complex traditions going back 1000’s of years. Historically the wedding party was split, but now Albanians are a lot more modern, even those living outside the capital Tirana.
A Marriage festival
The first thing to say about Albanian weddings is that they last a long time! There is no single wedding day. Weddings can start up to seven days before the bride and groom are married. It involves all the groom’s relatives and the brides and just about the whole village on top of that!
Gold And Candy
As well as an engagement ring, an Albanian bride receives a gold coin from the groom as well as sugared almonds.
Another tradition is for the youngest boy in the groom’s family to give the bride a bunch of flowers. Although the flowers are varied, it is often a poppy(the national flower of Albania).
As we mentioned in our article on love phrases in Albanian, guns are integral to the Albanian wedding ceremony. This tradition has its roots in Albanian tribal culture, which was very much warrior-dominated. The guns, often automatic rifles, are fired when the bride arrives at the groom’s house. Quite the firework display!
There is also something tribal and traditional about the concept of krushqit. The entire groom’s party arrives at the bridal house and fetches the bride away to be married. This is an opportunity for any wealthy guests to show off their decorated cars! The bride and groom go in the first car, followed by a car flying the Albanian flag.
Like many traditional cultures, the groom’s family must pay a dowry to the bride’s family. However, this has largely been relegated to symbolism and doesn’t involve any actual money. Instead, the dowry comes in the guise of expensive fabrics and things the bride will find useful in her new home. Check out our blog for a list of Albanian Traditional Clothing
Another tradition strange to our western sensibilities is that the bride brings a coin and places it in her shoe for a young boy to find. Then, the young boy waits to sit on the bride’s lap, hoping that she will have male children.
Probably the most famous thing about an Albanian wedding is the traditional dance. The guests ‘make it rain’ with Albanian banknotes while the bride and groom dance.
As opposed to the UK, it is more customary also to leave money as a gift. (It is the close family that usually contributes to the bride’s dowry.
Another tradition is to burn a white handkerchief(Shamia e beqarit) made of cotton. The handkerchief needs to be aflame for the whole duration of the groom’s dance. This tradition originates from the idea that now the husband has a wife to take care of him, he can burn his old dirty things.
This is also another time when guns are fired! Any excuse in Albania is a good excuse.
Traditionally after this final dance, the bride and groom go away on a honeymoon.
Sidenote: The concept of the honeymoon has a dark side. It has its historical routes in a bride being literally abducted and for enough time to elapse for the family to call off the search. Then, the concept became ritualized, and now the premise is that the husband takes away the bride with everyone’s consent.
The phrase honeymoon comes from the Vikings. They would drink honey in the first month of the marriage because to aid the chances of pregnancy. Interestingly, a similar English tradition was to wear the undergarments of a woman who’d already given birth!
Learn Albanian With Ling
As we have discovered, an Albanian wedding is an all the family affair(and often the village too). Albanian wedding traditions are as varied as they are fantastical. The actual ceremony is lost somewhere in the seven-day event.
Maybes, you’re reading this because you’ve been invited to an Albanian wedding? The Albanian diaspora is massive, with more than 3x the population of Albania living outside the country than within it. It would score you points with relatives from the old country to learn a few basic Albanian phrases.
That’s where Ling comes in. We’ve developed bite-sized lessons that won’t take more than 15 minutes out of your day. Our course starts with very basic Albanian and becomes more complex the further you progress.
The Ling course is the base of the pyramid when it comes to language learning. Once you learn 500 words and phrases, you can begin reading and listening to content in the target language. Join 10 million others who have downloaded the app from the Playstore and start your Albanian learning language today
If you’re interested in more aspects of Albanian culture, check out our Albanian blog. I update the blog weekly, and we discuss everything from Albanian religion, to Albanian Geographical facts, to giving you a handy list of basic words and phrases. If you’re thinking of visiting Albania, the best website is from the UK government. They have travel advice which is constantly updated.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.
Until the next time.