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submitted by Peter Makarthis on 05.06.2012

Greek Double Wedding 1921

Greek Double Wedding
QUAINT CUSTOMS DESCRIBED
The Greek community of Sydney made high holiday on Sunday* in honour of the first double wedding that has been celebrated in the Agia Triatha Greek Orthodox Church at Bourke Street, Surrey Hills.

The brides were Kanella and Marie, daughters of Rev. Father Evangelos Crithary and Madame Crithary, of Cerigo, Greece; and the respective bridegrooms were Jack Moulos, of Singleton (son of Rev. Father Moulos and Madame Moulos of Cerigo), and James Poulos, of Katoomba ( son of M.and Mme. Poulos of Cerigo).

The island of Cerigo, the native place of two-thirds of the Greeks in Sydney, is one of the seven Ionian Islands, which at one time belonged to Britain, and were given by Queen Victoria to King George of Greece (the present King Constantine’s father) on his succession to the throne.

The Rev. Father D. Marinakis, head of the Orthodox Greek Church of Australia, officiated at Sunday’s ceremony. The brides, who were less than a year in Australia, were given away by their brothers, Mr Theo Crithary (president of the Greek Community} and Peter Crithary, of Warialda NSW. Mrs. Theo Crithary acted as ‘married friend’ to both brides.

The bridesmaids were Misses Calliope and Helene Phacheas and Miss Stamell. The best men were Messrs Charles Andronico Muswellbrook) and Theodore Georgopoulos and the groomsmen Messrs George Moulos and Peter Poulos , brothers of the respective bridegrooms.

Among those present at the church were Mr.Dunn (Minister for Agriculture) and Mrs Dunn, and Mr McKell (Minister for Justice) and Mrs McKell.

The creed of the Orthodox Greek Church is almost that of the Church of England, although the ritual is much different, and the wedding service is elaborate and picturesque.

There are no pews in the Greek Church. The wedding guests stood around a clear space in front of the altar in the centre of the nave. When the bridal party arrived at the door the priest advanced, and the brides were presented to him. They kissed and bade farewell to their “married friend” and the brothers who were giving them away, and were led and were led by the priest to the waiting bridegrooms at the altar.

Each bride wore a white dress with long satin train, and a crown of orange blossom, and carried a bouquet; but the veil was not worn over the face.

The priest handed each of the groomsmen a lighted candle bedecked with ribbons, and produced from the leaves of the Bible four wedding rings, asked in Greek of each couple whether they they were willing to become engaged. Being assured on that point, he placed a ring on the third finger of the right hand of each bride and each bridegroom. The respective groomsmen took the rings off and transposed them, then changed them back again, repeating the performance to the third time, and so symbolizing the mutual nature of the acceptance.

The couples being officially engaged, the priest asked each bride and each bridegroom three times whether they agreed to be married. On receiving the affirmative answer he placed on their heads the “stafana.”

The “stafana,” or linked marriage crowns are wreaths of orange blossom, each pair joined by a ribbon. The best men, standing behind their principals, lifted the wreaths and changed them across and back again three times, signifying the mutual and equal sharing of marriage.

The Greek Church does not frighten its marriage candidates by telling them of the woes that must be shared. Perhaps it is because they are not warned to expect woes that there are few divorces among them.

“Even as Christ obeyed His Father in all things,” the priest admonished the brides, “so must you obey your husbands. And” (to the husbands) “even as Christ gave His life for love for us, so you must give your lives, if need be, for your beloved wives.”

Led by the priest, the wedding party circled the altar in procession three times, while the guests showered rice and confetti upon them.

The priest removed the “stefana,”blessed them, and put aside to be kept for the brides until they settled in their homes after the honeymoon.

Standing at the right of the newly-married couples, now facing the altar again, the priest held before his face a Bible, and the relatives and friends passed along the line, first kissing the Bible and the priest’s hand, and saluted the brides and bridegrooms by kissing their foreheads or their lips, according to the degree of the friend’s intimacy.

The wedding breakfast was served at Miss Bishop’s Hall, Elizabeth Street where about 200 sat down as guests.

Among those present Rev. Father Marinakis and Mrs Marinakis, Mr. Sproule (Solicitor General), Mr. ans Mrs. Dunn, Mr. and Mrs McKell, Mr. Aboud (president of the Syrian Association) and Mrs Aboud, Mr.G. and Mrs Phacheas, Messrs. N. Collins, P. Calopedis, Con. Soulos, C. Servetopoulos, Venilis, Stamell, Andronico, Casimatis, A.W.Phillips, Leouis, Marcellos, Summergreene, Economus and Brazier; Mesdames, Venilis, Linos, Casimatis, Stamell, Summergreene, Marcellos, and Brazier; and Misses Constantinedis, Servetopoulos and Paxinos.

The Greek wedding dance and other national dances were performed. Miss Helene Phacheas recited (in English) “The Children’s Hour” and sang “Messa stis cardias ta phyla” (“In the Book of the Heart”). Mrs Linos sang “Mother Machree,” and with Mr. Leouis and chorus, “O, Solo Mio.”

*Wedding Sunday 7 August 1921
Singleton Argus,
Thursday 11 August 1921

Researched by Peter McCarthy
May 2012

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