DCSS

Traditions & Customs

Doukhobor Weddings  |  Origins of the Doukhobor Cuisine

Doukhobor Weddings

Traditions of and procedures for Doukhobor weddings date back to the sect’s origin in Russia when, clan style, the young man and his family would arrive, with horse and buggy, to ‘take away the young bride and her trunk-full of homespun, home-quilted trousseau. In those early days, after the wedding ceremony, the delicious meal, and the evening festivities, the bride would go with her young man to his parents’ village and take her place in their extended family life-style.

To this day, it is still traditional for the groom and his family to arrive, early on the wedding day, at the bride’s home and take part in a blessing ceremony ( similar to that of the engagement party, approximately six weeks earlier_ with close relatives, after which the two families are considered untied into one.

This same procedure is repeated later in the day, in a more extensive fashion, with full congregational participations, at the wedding’s designated location. The building in which the das events take place is not of great spiritual significance and is chosen according to the young couple’s own wishes. Practically speaking, however, the Doukhobor center is usually the most expedient locations, since it has kitchen facilities for the cooking groups and a space big enough to accommodate the traditionally large celebrations.

Doukhobor weddings are unique in that they are based on the young couple receiving their blessings from the entire groups of attending guests rather than from one individual. They believe that ’the voice of the people is the voice of God, and that those people who know and love the bride and groom are filled with such powerful positive messages of good wishes and heartfelt love that they will strengthen the young couple’s future direction and give them added spiritual sustenance to begin their life together.

The bowing to the ground throughout the ceremony signifies humble thankfulness to beloved friends and relatives, to Mother Earth, to the God in each of us, and pays respect to a new, enriched, enlarged family unit. Love, best wishes, and bits of wisdom, are passed on to the young couple through psalms, poems, and original words from those who feel moved to express them.. The official ceremony is also intertwined with acapella group singing which enhances the people’s good wishes by spiritually connecting everyone in a powerful unified Whole Force of blessings.

Then the banquet begins. The traditional meal, lovingly prepared by friends and relatives, symbolizes the arm hospitality and open sense of love and sharing that is to be incorporated into the new couple’s life-style. The obligation of sharing life’s basics is symbolized by the bread, salt and water, which is considered ‘the staff of life,’ by which they are to be guided.

In general, basic procedures for Doukhobor weddings, though old in origin, can nevertheless be seen emerging in many twentieth century trends, in that they reflect the belief that all people are equal, and that the collective well-wishes of loving, caring people help set a stronger footing on which a couple can begin building their future, through which they could help in their organization’s future, and also contribute their responsible part for a more harmonious future of the entire world community.


Origins of the Doukhobor Cuisine

Doukhobors are basically of Russian ethnic origin, but historically they’ve tended to live in separate, self contained communities. This factor, along with their many periods of exile throughout various parts of Russia (with their many different ethnic populations), has contributed toward the development of a unique Doukhobor cuisine. The food culture of those Doukhobors who emigrated from Russia in 1899 has also been affected by their vegetarian principles and by a century of life in Canada.

Thus while most traditional Doukhobor foods are variations of Russian and Slavic dishes, some are clearly of other ethnic origin. Likewise, a few are totally unique to Doukhobors, and many others have been either adopted or adapted from the multi-ethnic food culture of North America. All-in-all, it adds up to a “culinary conglomerate” not quite like any other in the world!

Just a few examples

Borsch - Most closely resembles Ukrainian varieties, but is really quite unique (and great!)

Pyrahi -(“Pastry tarts”) Whether filled with vegetables of fruit, and with a variety of dough commonly used, this mainstay of traditional Doukhobor cooking is very similar to the well-known Slavic dish of the same name.

Goluptsi -or (Golubtsi) The Doukhobor version of these traditions “cabbage rolls” is vegetarian, but otherwise it’s almost identical to the Ukrainian and Russian versions of this well-known dish.

Vareniki - This is the Russian name, but in Canada, they’re more well-known as the Ukrainian “pirogis.”

Lapshevnik – “Lapsha” is universal, but this “noodle cake” may be uniquely Doukhobor.

Plove – A traditional Middle Eastern rice dish our people undoubtedly acquired while living in Transcaucasia.

Kvas – Variations of these deliciously refreshing “cold soups” (usually with radish of cucumbers, etc.) are well known throughout Russia, but go under different names.

Vinigret – Although French sounding, this dish can nevertheless be found in many cookbooks in Russia, with many versions of this “winter salad” of diced root vegetables, etc.

Saladukha – No name like this one in any Russian dictionary. We must have acquired this delicious fruit “concoction” from one of Russia’s southern neighbors.

Otvar – Another southern type food/nectar which may have entered Doukhobor cuisine during our Milky Waters sojourn, lots of fruit there.

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