While food plays a huge role in Greek weddings, music and dancing are also important. To put it into perspective it helps to know that there are more than 4000 traditional dances in the Greek culture, so yes, dancing is a big part of the celebration at Greek weddings. Probably the most infamous of these dances is the Money Dance. In the Greek wedding tradition this dance starts with the bride, the groom and a handkerchief, and it is during this dance that family and other guests give the bride and groom their wedding gifts in the form of money. That’s right, forget about toasters, crystal, or linen. Greeks give the gift that everyone needs – money.
How to Dance the Money Dance
Like the popular Greek Syrtos dance, the Money Dance (Kalamatianós) is a line dance. Also known as the Bride’s Dance, this celebration starts with the bride and groom dancing with a handkerchief. The parents of the bride and groom prepare for this dance before the wedding by pinning together reams of the largest bill in their currency. (Some get fancy and create a crown made of money too.) During the Money Dance, the parents step forward first and drape the money stole they’ve crafted over the happy couple and then hold hands with them to form the start of a curving line of dancers, facing right.
Once the parents of the bride and groom have done their part, the rest of the wedding guests come forward and pin money on the couple. Some practice this a little differently by having guest throw money at the couple (no coins of course). This isn’t done in an orderly manner but can become pushy as everyone crowds around, but even the pushiness is part of the Greek wedding tradition. After pinning or throwing the money, guests join the dance line with the dancer at the right end of the line becoming the leader. This person can also perform a solo dance showing off moves like sapping his thighs while everyone else continues to do the basic step.
What Is the Meaning of the Greek Wedding Dance Handkerchief?
As I researched the Greek wedding dance, I tried to find out the significance of the handkerchief, but didn’t find anything specific. I do know that handkerchief dancing is part of Greek Orthodox weddings, so if you read this and can offer some insight, I’d love to hear from you.
Photo credits: Wikimedia