Fall in Ukraine traditionally is a big wedding time. Why? Because it is still in blood of Ukrainians, to make weddings when all works at farms are done. Post-harvest time in Ukraine is the best for different kinds of celebrations. So, it is time to bake a korovay :) !
Korovay is wedding bread in Ukraine. Yes, Ukrainians are baking wedding bread instead of wedding cake. The korovay has a taste like eggs bread (without a raisin though). Ukrainian wedding bread being of different shape, very often it is a bread of several layers, with lots of decorations on it. Anyway, it is doesn’t matter very much a shape and a decorations, but one thing is very important. Korovay SUPPOSE TO BE at Ukrainian wedding! Actually, it is not a wedding without a korovay, because the korovay it is a very strong symbol of happily marriage life for the newlyweds. Even the process of baking of the korovay in Ukraine is a very special custom; at least it was in olden times of a few centuries ago. Only luckily married women were allowed to bake a korovay, because tradition says, you can share your happiness in marriage with the newlyweds through korovay.
I think, people of some villages in Central and Eastern Ukraine are still keeping this tradition, but I will tell you more about the modern weddings in Western Ukraine, because I experienced all those things myself, along with my West Ukrainian relatives and friends.
Well, there are lots of good bakeries and individual bakers in Western Ukraine (at least in Ternopil region) where you can order your korovay for a wedding, so you don’t need to ask a fortunately married woman you know to make the custom of baking the wedding bread for you. Usually in Western Ukraine the Godparents of a bride and groom or Starosty (special people at the wedding, like matchmakers) are suppose to bring the korovay to the wedding (it means, they have to pay for this korovay from the bakery). Actually, there are two korovays at the modern West Ukrainian wedding, from the bride’s side and from the groom’s side.
Ok, let the wedding begin! Before going to the Church for the ceremony, parents, grandparents and Godparents bless the bride and groom with the korovays. Then Starosta (he is usually the boss at Ukrainian wedding) carries the korovay (or both korovays) to the Church. The wedding bread is to be in the Church during all of the ceremony, and then Starosta brings the korovay to the wedding reception. There will be a special custom with korovay (korovays) at the end of the wedding. The name of this custom is a cutting (or sharing) of the korovay. In West Europe and Northern America newlyweds are cutting the wedding cake, but in Ukraine the Starosta cuts the korovay and gives a piece to every guest at the wedding, like saying “thank you for being with newlyweds in their special day”.
The cutting of the Ukrainian wedding bread is a bit of ceremony too. The Starosta cuts the top of the korovay first and gives it to the newlyweds, and then he gives a piece to every guest at the wedding. The bottom of the korovay is given to the wedding’s musicians.
I have a collection of the pictures of Ukrainian korovays. There are mostly a photos from my relatives, friends wedding and of course from my wedding :)
At the picture from my wedding you can see a Myroslav Babchuk is holding our korovay. Myroslav Babchuk is a lider of the Veseli Halychany band, one of the best folk music bands in the Western Ukraine (we were very lucky to get them at the wedding). Also I am grateful very much my Godmother for her great wedding gift, our wedding bread (she ordered it at private baker).
The wedding bread at wedding of Olya and Jim (Olya is my best friend since 1989!) was made at “Nadzbrucchya-Khlib” (“Nadzbrucchya-Bread”) bakery. This is a very popular bakery in the Ternopil region.
I don’t know who baked wedding breads for Olya and Lyubchyk’s wedding (another my good friends) and for Halyna and Mykhailo's wedding (they are known Ternopil’s politicians), but their korovays were so gorgeous!
Anyway. To see all this Ukrainian beauty in real life, to visit Ukrainian wedding, travel to the West Ukraine :) !