When I started to write this post, the first thing I thought was, I’ll need a link so people can learn more about the pie cutting…and so I can make sure I understand it correctly. After searching and searching (“greek wedding pie-cutting ceremony” and all possible variations) I pretty much gave up on finding an English-language online explanation of this particular event. So I asked Lefteris about this. The conversation went like this:
Me: What’s the pie-cutting ceremony called in Greek?
Him: Well, I’m calling it the “pie cutting” because it’s nicer for Americans.
Me: Okay…but what’s it called in Greek?
Me: Isn’t that the name of the special Easter bread?
Me: Okay…what is the CEREMONY called?
Him: …To Tsoureki.
Me: “The Bread”??
At that point we started searching for it on google.gr, in Greek – but still had trouble finding it! This is a super-traditional ceremony that isn’t performed with every wedding, and it seems like it might be fairly localized to Mytilene (or Lesvos). We did eventually find a link, but here’s how our pie-cutting worked:
A couple of nights before the wedding, just before sunset, everyone gathered at the groom’s house. (I’m pretty sure this would have taken place at the bride’s house if the bride was, you know, from there.)
I sat in the middle of the living room.
A red wool cloth was held over my head, by my girlfriends and other young women.
A giant pie/cake/bread was held above the red cloth.
A group of singers who had come from a nearby village (Agiassos) sang traditional songs. The songs are about the bittersweet feelings of the bride’s family…on the one hand they are happy for her marriage, but on the other they are sad that she is leaving their family.
At the end of the songs, the bride (me!) reaches up over her head and above the pie/cake/bread…
…and pulls out the BIGGEST handful of pie/cake/bread she can. The bigger the better, because the bigger it is, the sweeter the married life will be.
Then the piece of tsoureki is dipped into a bowl of honey, to make it sticky.
Finally the single ladies take bites of the honey-covered tsoureki. The stickiness is supposed to attract (and keep!) their future husbands.
After this, it was time for a smorgasbord of sweets. Amazing…
(On the cake slices above, those are the first letters of our names baked into the cake, in Greek!)
The leader of the musicians who played at our wedding arrived…and he was playing even as he walked in. He is wonderful.
We went outside into the garden for a delicious dinner.
…and the musicians played bouzouki late into the night.