Article

Negotiating Magic: Ukrainian Wedding Traditions and Their Persistence in Canada

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Abstract

Magical efficacy has been important in Ukrainian wedding ritual. The korovai, rushnyk, omens, gifts, the showering of the couple, and other “sacred” objects and acts of the Ukrainian folk wedding are believed to be imbued with prophetic qualities. Uprooted folklore tradition, however, faces inevitable transformations, and Ukrainian immigrants in Canada tend to know and believe in magical objects and actions significantly less. The examination of magical beliefs and practices in the context of weddings among Ukrainians in Ukraine and in Canada shows that the two groups possess different belief systems: magical and anti-magical respectively. Rural and urban dwellers, divorced people, and the clergy from both countries were interviewed retrospectively about their wedding days. Their answers confirm that magical beliefs and practices are the most fragile part of the folklore complex transmitted to a different cultural context. By contrast, material culture, which becomes a major means of ethnic identification, remains well preserved and cherished.

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... In Greece, young children (oftentimes, boys) are placed on the marital bed (Mordecai, 1999;Murphy, 1978), while in China children are encouraged to jump on the marital bed to encourage fertility (Spangenberg, 2001). Kukharenko (2008) explains how boys are valued more and so are emphasized in the wedding. Various "magical" actions are performed to ensure that the couple will have sons, including having the bride hold a little boy in her lap at the groom's house and "fondle his testicles" (p. ...
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