Crimean Tatars are a small ethnic group originating from the Crimean Peninsula (Europe, the northern coast of the Black Sea). They’re mostly Muslim, but their wedding traditions are a bit different from those in other Muslim countries. The Islamic rules in the Crimean Tatar culture are somewhat less strict. For example, a Crimean Tatar girl has a say in the engagement, her father can suggest or advise a husband for her, but only the girl decides whether she wants to marry him or not. Also, Crimean Tatar traditional weddings are very beautiful and spectacular events because of the traditional costumes used by the bride and groom.
But we’ll talk about a Crimean Tatar wedding in another article. This one is dedicated to the engagement traditions.
First visit to the bride’s house
The process of engagement begins with a visit to a potential bride’s house. The young man and a few of his closest relatives (3-5 people) go to the girl’s house to meet with her family and bring gifts for the bride. These gifts usually include gold jewelry, perfumes, costly clothing or accessories, etc. In the past, grooms often presented their brides with expensive fabric, which was estimated highly among the women. But today, the fabric is more affordable and easy to get, so men don’t give it to their brides anymore.
Crimean Tatar vintage folk dress
If the bride’s family accepts the guests, shares a meal with them, and accepts the gifts, it means that they agree to the wedding. Otherwise, they don’t take the presents and demonstrate a cold demeanor.
Sealing the engagement
The family of the groom and the family of the bride meet, talk, have dinner together, and learn more about each other before making the final agreement to wed the couple. While the guests are in the house, the future bride stays in her room.
In many Muslim countries, the bride’s father decides whom to marry her with. But in the Crimean Tatar culture, the last word is her, the bride has a right to decide whether she agrees to marry this particular man. So, while the guests eat and communicate, the mother of the bride comes to her room and asks the girl if she wants to marry this man. Only after her agreement, the engagement is official and sealed.
Kidnapping the bride
In some cases, the tradition of the kidnapping the bride is performed. Even these days. This kidnapping is rather ceremonial because the groom must have her agreement for the kidnapping. Otherwise, it’s a criminal case. Mostly, the kidnapping was practiced when the bride’s parents didn’t agree to a wedding or the groom was poor and couldn’t offer the proper engagement ceremony. In such situations, if the young couple still wanted to be together, they sometimes organized a kidnapping.
The groom came to the bride’s house to get her away. She needed to scream 3 times so that the ritual of kidnapping was appropriately followed. And then, the groom took his bride to one of his relatives’ home. Never to his own house – that would be considered shameful for an unmarried girl. After that, he sent a relative to the bride’s parents to negotiate. And according to the tradition, her father couldn’t refuse to give the agreement for the future wedding this time. So, the couple was considered engaged. But, of course, no intimate relationships were allowed until the wedding.
First meeting at the window
After the official engagement, the groom came to his bride’s house to see her and present her with a small gift to show his devotion. But he wasn’t allowed to enter her house at first. He talked to the girl through her window and gave the gift to her. This was their official first date. Only after this ritual, the groom was able to come to the house and meet with the bride, ask her out, and so on.
Crimean Tatar vintage folk dress
By the way, when he asked his fiancee out, she had to take a younger sibling with them so that the couple didn’t do anything too intimate on their date.
A week before the wedding, the groom and his family take a lot of gifts for the bride’s closest relatives and go visit the bride’s home. They present their new family-to-be with gifts and receive gifts in return. During this meeting, not only the bride, groom, and their parents are present, but grannies and grandpas, matchmakers, siblings, and other family members. They celebrate, make the last arrangements for the wedding, and get to know each other better.
After a week, the wedding is held. Often, Crimean Tatars have traditional weddings or at least incorporate various traditional rituals into a more Western-style wedding.