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BETTER THAN AN ENGRAVED INVITATION

THE INVITING OF WEDDING GUESTS AMONG THE RURAL POLISH
PEOPLE OF RIGGSVILLE (CHEBOYGAN), MICHIGAN HAS
FINALLY SUCCUMBED TO THE MODERN MEANS OF PRINTED
INVITATIONS. HOWEVER, UP TO TWENTY YEARS AGO,
WITH ONE KNOWN RECENT EXCEPTION, THE MANNER OF
INVITATION WAS PERFORMED IN A VERY PERSONAL AND
RICHLY TRADITIONAL WAY.
FORMERLY, THE PROSPECTIVE GROOM WOULD SELECT TWO MEN
TO ACT AS THE OFFICIAL INVITERS AND USHERS KNOWN AS
THE "DROZBY." THESE MEN WOULD WEAR BLUE AND WHITE
RIBBONS; THE ONE WEARING THE LONGER RIBBON WOULD BE
THE HEAD, WHILE THE OTHER WOULD BE THE AIDE WHOSE MAIN
FUNCTION WAS TO DRIVE THE HORSES, MAKING SURE THEY
STOPPED AT EACH TO-BE-INVITED GUESTS' FARM.
UPON REACHING SUCH A FARM, THE HEAD WOULD FIRE A SHOT
BEFORE ENTERING THE FARM GATE TO ANNOUNCE THEIR ARRIVAL.
AFTER ENTERING THE YARD BOTH WOULD RAP ON THE DOOR, AND
WHEN ANSWERED, THE HEAD WOULD INVITE THE ENTIRE HOUSE-
HOLD TO THE WEDDING USING A TRADITIONAL INVITATION
WHICH UNFORTUNATELY, I COULD NOT FIND VERBATIM. THIS
INVITING WOULD LAST FROM TWO DAYS TO A WEEK, DEPENDING
UPON THE LENGTH OF THE GUEST LIST.
AT THE WEDDING RECEPTION ITSELF, THESE SAME TWO MEN
TOOK CHARGE OF SEEING TO THE COMFORTS OF THE GUESTS
AND THE BRIDAL PARTY. THE IDEA OF A LONG POLISH
CELEBRATION IS NOT UNFOUNDED FOR THESE RECEPTIONS
WOULD LAST ANYWHERE FROM THREE TO SEVEN DAYS WITH
INTERRUPTIONS FOR ONLY THE MOST NECESSARY FARM CHORES.
THE WEDDING DAY'S CELEBRATION WAS ALSO FILLED WITH
MANY CUSTOMS SURROUNDING THE WISHING OF A HAPPY AND
FRUITFUL MARRIAGE. THESE ARE CARRIED OUT IN VARYING
DEGREES DURING POLISH WEDDINGS OF MODERN DAY. THE
FOLLOWING ARE SOME OF THE CUSTOMS WHICH MAY STILL BE
DONE IN PART OR FULL.
UPON ENTERING THE PLACE OF RECEPTION, THE BRIDE'S
MOTHER PRESENTS THE COUPLE WITH A GOBLET OF WINE AND A
PIECE OF BREAD. THE COUPLE SHARES THE BREAD AND WINE
AS A SYMBOL OF FUTURE WEDDED HOLINESS (WINE) AND
PROSPERITY (BREAD).
TOWARDS THE EVENING, THE BRIDE'S UNVEILING IS VERY
RITUALISTIC. BEFORE HER VEIL IS REMOVED HER MOTHER
AND PERHAPS SOME OLDER WOMEN WOULD SING THE "TWELVE
ANGELS," A SONG IN WHICH THE COUPLE IS WISHED THE
BLESSINGS OF TWELVE ANGELS EACH BEARING A SPECIAL
MATRIMONIAL GIFT TO MAKE THEIR MARRIAGE A HAPPY AND
SUCCESSFUL ONE. THE BRIDE'S GRANDFATHER WOULD THEN
MAKE A PERSONAL BLESSING OF THE COUPLE IN HIS OWN
WORDS. THE VEIL IS THEN REPLACED WITH A DUSTCAP TO
REMIND THE BRIDE THAT HER MAIN DUTIES ARE NOW THOSE OF
A HOUSEWIFE. SINCE THE BRIDESMAIDS (DRUHNY) WERE
USUALLY SINGLE, THE BRIDES' VEIL WOULD BE GIVEN TO
EACH BEGINNING WITH THE MAID OF HONOR AS A HOPEFUL
SIGN THAT THEY WOULD BE THE NEXT BRIDE. AFTER EACH
WORE IT FOR A DANCE IT WOULD BE RETURNED TO THE BRIDE
BUT SHE WOULD NO LONGER WEAR IT FOR SHE WAS NOW
OFFICIALLY A HOUSEWIFE.
THE BRIDE'S DANCE WOULD BE HELD EITHER BEFORE OR AFTER
THE UNVEILING BUT, IN MY EXPERIENCE, I FOUND THIS
WHIRLING FESTIVITY WOULD USUALLY BE HELD BEFORE THE
UNVEILING. THE DANCE CONSISTED OF THE FASTEST
POLKAS THE BAND COULD PLAY. ON A TABLE NEAR THE DANCE
FLOOR A TABLE WITH A DISHPAN FULL OF OLD BUT INTACT
PLATES WOULD BE PLACED. THE PAN WAS COVERED WITH A THICK
DISHTOWEL. THE BRIDE WOULD BE ALONE ON THE DANCEFLOOR
AND MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN WOULD TAKE TURNS DANCING
WITH HER FOR A SHORT BUT EXHAUSTING POLKA. WHEN THE
BAND WOULD STOP, THE BRIDE'S PARTNER WOULD THEN VIGOR-
OUSLY PITCH A SILVER DOLLAR INTO THE DISHPAN ATTEMPTING
TO BREAK ONE OF THE PLATES. IF SUCCESSFUL, THE HURLER
WOULD BE TREATED TO A CIGAR OR SHOT OF THE BEST
LIQUOR, SAVED FOR THIS OCCASION. THE SILVER DOLLARS
WOULD BE GIVEN TO THE NEWLYWEDS AS PART OF THEIR
WEDDING PRESENTS.
THESE MAIN CUSTOMS PERFORMED, THE GUESTS WOULD THEN
PROCEED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DUTY OF "PUPLI-VINI"
(GETTING RID OF THE WINE) WHICH VARIED AS THE PROVISIONS
AND BAND HELD OUT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; CHEBOYGAN

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Marriage Ceremony

Date learned: 00-00-1944

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