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  Orcadian Wedding Traditions

After the Wedding

Marriage festivities did not end with the Wedding Feast.

On the evening after the wedding, those who had helped cook and serve as well as some of the older folk who had not been present at the main feast, were entertained.

Then, after a month or two had passed - or perhaps only a few weeks - came the "Back Feast" or "Back Treat". This was a party thrown by the best man and his friends in return for the wedding feast provided by the bride's friends and family.

Our final wedding custom occurred at the Back Feast and was known as the "marryin' o' the folk".

This ceremony involved the young women sitting themselves along the walls of the building in which the feast was being held (again usually a cleaned barn) while the young men stood in a group at one end of the hall.

Two elderly men were chosen to carry out the ceremony and were referred to as "priests" or "ministers". Their task was to seize one of the assembled young men and taking an arm each, march him up and down the hall while reciting (in the dialect form of course);

"We are three Brethren come from Spain...
We are come to court thy daughter Jane."

The second priest would then say;

"My daughter Jane, she is too young,
She does not know your flattering tongue."

To which the first would reply;

"Be she young or be she old,
For a bride she must be sold."

Then both together;

"Ten hundred sheep, ten hundred swine,
Ten hundred pints of good red wine;
Come kiss thy love, that man may see
We wish her muckle geud o' thee."

At this point, the priests would throw the young man forcefully onto the knees of one of the young women present. She would remain his partner for the remainder of the night.

This process was repeated until all the revellers were paired up.

Once all were "married", the girls opened the package of food they had brought to the Back Feast and shared it with her new "husband".

After eating the supper, dancing resumed until such time as the young man had to escort his "wife" home, thus ending the celebrations.

The Hame-fare

There was one final festivity, known this time as the hame-fare.

This was the party given by the bride immediately after she moved into her new house. There was generally no rule as to when this should take place, but it could be some time after the wedding.

Although technically married, a marriage was not considered complete until the bride had been "kirked". This took place the Sunday following her wedding day, and was regarded by many as the bride's finest hour.

On Kirking Sunday, the new bride, resplendent in clothing bought for the occasion, marched into church with her husband and their attendants.

Only when kirked could the bride finally consider herself officially married.

Section Contents
Customs and First Steps
Fit Washin' Night
Saltwater and freshwater
Kissing Meat
Biddin' da Folk
The Blackening
The Wedding Day Arrives...
The Wedding Feast
The Wedding Cogs
After the Wedding

See Also
Wedding Traditions and the Odin Stone
Courtship, love and marriage in Viking Scandinavia

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