Wedding bread “Korovai” is not just any bread served at the wedding table. It looks like a big cake, which may have from 1 to 5 tiers, decorated with unleavened dough, marshmello or whipped eggwhite (meringue). This bread accompanies the prospective couple from the very beginning of their wedding day and is shared among the guests at the end of the party. Let’s say, that it is something like american tradition of wedding cake, but Ukrainian Korovai has much more purpose than for providing a tasty treat.
The preparing of Korovai is one of the most common wedding rituals amongst Ukrainians, which symbolizes the blessing the community gives to the wedding couple. In different regions of Ukraine, this ritual may slightly differ. The main wedding bread has been designed according to a certain theme/scenery. The process of making Korovai should have been started on the Friday or Saturday before the wedding day at the bride’s or groom’s house. Members of both families should participate in the ritual as a symbol of families connecting.
In Ukraine, it is common to have women who are married making Korovai. The nesessary condition is – women should be in their first marriage and have happy family life. Participation of widows is frowned upon(dissallowed). There is a superstition that women who make the wedding bread, will give a piece of their fate to the prospective couple.
The baking of Korovai is accompanied by various ritualistic actions. For example, women who would be making the dough would be bound with a special embroidered towel and their hands would be washed with holy water. The process of making dough should flow with a good mood of bakers. When the dough is ready, one of the women would make the sign of the cross on top of the oven showel, on the oven, and on the bread itself. Only after silent prayer would the Korovai enter the hot oven with the utmost care.