The original text was written in a dialect specific to Herzegovina, so this translation is not as good as the original. I made it only to bring our customs closer to the people who don’t understand our language. This is a story told by an old lady about wedding customs in Herzegovina back in the time when she was young.
Back in the old times girls and boys would meet while shepherding or at the church. When the boy would like the girl he would come to her house to visit her (silo). Usually, boys would come on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and on Fridays widowers would go “for a visit”. Every girl had a room in her house or barn where the boys could come.
Mother and father would know that the boys are coming, but the boys would still be hiding from them. It used to be a lot more boys than girls back in the old time, there were wars and people went to work abroad. Weddings used to be on St.Catherine’s day, and the ‘hook-up’ day on All Saints’day. When guy would like a girl he would step on her foot. Entering into a marriage would be celebrated at the ceremony called ‘rakija’. Kidnapping of a bride used to happen sometimes.
When a girl would go with a boy without knowing of their parents, one of the boy’s relatives would take the girl into their house, since she couldn’t enter unmarried into the house. Only men would go on ‘rakija’, carrying food and drink, and mother-in-law would send some wool or something like that to her daughter-in-law. When wooers would knock on the door the host would close the doors in front of them, then they would knock again and represented themselves as travelers looking for a place to spend the night.
Then the host would let them in. The senior of the wooers would say that they had heard that host has a marriageable girl, and they have a boy, so if the girl would like to come and take their name. The host would then order the girl to be brought. The daughter-in-law would bring girls one by one, until the right one would come out. Then the wooer would take out an apple with money; put it on a table and say: Host, I want your daughter for my son, and I ask God for luck and blessing, and I ask you your daughter for my son. If there is a good will, let the girl take the apple.
Then the girl would kiss her parents, gave them an apple then sat next to the senior of the wooers. They would sing and dance until the down. The girl would give wooers girdles and woolen socks. Tomorrow morning they would all go to a ceremony called ‘the ring’. The girl would go with her brother, and a boy with his father. Fifteen days before the wedding the boy would invite the guests. Only men used to go to the wedding, and only one woman with them ‘enga’, sister or a relative of a groom. They would go on horseback, cloaked in a red heavy coat. The senior would be an older man, he would order what and when something should be done. ‘Buljubaša’ would go in the front and he would have cock-feather on his hat. There was a man responsible for a flag; he would carry it all day long. When they would come to the bride’s house, he would put it on a roof or a tree. If someone managed to steal it, that boy had to pay for it to be returned.
‘Čauš’ would go on the end of the wedding troop, joking and offering a drink to people who would be passing by. He would be guarding a horse which carried food and drink which was carried to the bride’s house. The horse where bride’s dowry would have a mirror on his forehead because of spells. When they would go to pick up the dowry, they would have to pay, because bride’s sister would sit on a crate requesting money for a key. In dowry there would be hemp with wool, long woolen vest (‘ječerma’), woolen blankets and so on. The groom wouldn’t go with the guests. He would be in the church then go to prepare everything for the guests. After getting out of the church the bride would put white head scarf. When they would come to the groom’s house, ‘kolo’ of the girls (girls dancing in a circle) would welcome them.
The bride would sit on a horse and then throw an apple stuffed with money over the house. After that she had to give presents to some baby from the groom’s family. Then she would go to stir the pot, leave the apple with money on it, and kiss her mother-in-law. After dinner apple would be attached to a string on a beam and reeled first to the senior to give presents to the newlyweds. Then the best man would say how much money did he give, and the apple would then be given to the rest of the guests.
In the evening, the senior would order to the newlyweds to go to sleep. Then the best men and groomsman would take them to hayloft and sprinkle them with water. Tomorrow morning the bride would visit neighbors who would be giving her food, and best man and groomsman would be catching chicken in their yards. Before the lunch the bride would give presents to the guests and household members, and they would give her gifts too. After that the senior would order guests to go.