Sunday, June 3, 2012

Jewish-ish Wedding Traditions- Encircling of the Groom

I'm ready to talk about a Jewish tradition that I spent a while pondering whether or not to include. The encircling of the groom, or seven circles is a somewhat "controversial" tradition with feminists but I'm going to state right now that it is one that I am very excited to include in our ceremony! Here's a little history on the tradition: 

The Seven Circles (or Encircling of the Groom) is performed under the chuppah when the bride circles around the groom seven times. Tracing it back to the bible it ties to when Jeremiah the prophet said that a woman encompasses and protects a man. Why the bride circles the groom seven times comes from when Joshua circled the wall of Jericho seven times and the wall fell down. This represents the wall between the bride and groom falling down and their souls uniting! I mean, seriously, how beautiful is that? During my research I also found out that some brides circle only 3 times which represents when God says in the torah, "I betroth you to myself forever; I betroth you to myself in righteousness and in justice, in love and in mercy; and I betroth you to myself in faithfulness." 

The circling can also represents the bride building a home for the couple. Seven times also symbolizes the seven days spent creating the Earth, etc. etc. It seems like there are many different explanations for one act! Anyway, I'm not sure why the feminists have their panties in a bunch when it comes to this one. Perhaps because in one "interpretation" the bride is subverting to the groom? I don't know, I LOVE this tradition! I think it actually gives the bride a position of power in that she's symbolically building the home for the two of them and it is soooo beautiful! 

Here's what I love about it. I love all of the symbolism that it represents. A marriage is all about building a family, a household, and two becoming one. This tradition incorporates all of that! And if you haven't seen one done before, it is so romantic. It is such a powerful moment that really pulls your guests into your happiness and love for each other. It also gives you a minute to get your nerves under control once you're up under the chuppah. Plus, if I'm going to pay that much money for a quartet to play at my wedding, I'm milking every minute of play time I can out of them! 

It might be difficult to pull off if you have a big train or long veil (although bride number one below has both and her MOH helps her make it look flawless!) but I will not be having a train and will be wearing a bird cage veil so I will have no tripping issues! Let's check out some pictures of the seven circles being performed. 

To fully appreciate the beauty and romanticism of the circling, I suggest watching the video of these two at the link below! I teared up a little bit while watching it! Plus, the bride's MOH deserves special mention for helping her to not get caught up! 

Look at how excited this bride is! She is adorable! 

Another interesting thing to point out is that in a traditional Christian wedding the bride stands on the left and the groom on the right. However, at a Jewish wedding, it is the opposite! The bride standing on the right is an allusion to a verse in Psalms that says "a queen shall stand by your right side." 

Ok, here's my Jewish tradition recap:
1. Ketubah signing- IN
2. Chuppah- IN
3. Separation- OUT
4. The Covering of the Bride- Half IN Half OUT
5. The Procession/Unterfieres- IN
6. Encircling of the Groom- IN


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