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Wedding of the Weddings

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Wedding of the Weddings is an annual meeting of couples who had non-alcoholic wedding receptions. The meetings have taken place in various cities of Poland since 1995. The couples come together with their children to have an all-night-long non-alcoholic dancing party, to exchange experience on organizing non-alcoholic parties for children, youth and adults and just to spend several days together enjoying the local culture.

The event

Wedding of the Weddings is a multi-layered event[1]. There are conferences usually held at a local university, with invited talks by researchers on family related issues (relationship in the marriage, growing up children, non-alcoholic weddings and other family feasts) and with contributions of participants. There are meetings and discussions with representatives of the local government who are responsible for family support and for alcohol-related problems. A rich social program is offered: sports, sightseeing tours, field trips and picnics. Performances of folk singers and folk dancers as well as of pop stars accompany the meetings.

The major event of each Wedding of the Weddings follows a traditional wedding rite. In the evening, there is a Holy Mass at the local cathedral, where a bishop blesses each couple after confirmation of the marital oath. After that there is a wedding parade through the streets of the town to the restaurant, where a reception takes place. The reception starts with a polonaise, an old Polish aristocratic dance, lasting until 4:00 am with dancing and games for participants led by professional entertainers [2].

History

The Reverend Władysław Zązel, provost of a small parish in Kamesznica, became famous for spreading the tradition of non-alcoholic wedding receptions. In his parish, more than 90% of all wedding receptions were celebrated without alcohol. In 1995, he was invited by Radio Maryja (a well-known Catholic radio station) to tell the listeners about his experience with alcohol-free weddings. Listeners from all Poland were calling the radio station to say that alcohol-free weddings were organized by many individuals. Father Zązel proposed then to organize a meeting of those who had non-alcoholic weddings. The meetings were called "Wedding of the Weddings".

The first two such meetings were organized in Father Zązel’s parish Kamesznica[3], then in Zamość, Częstochowa, Kraków, Białystok, Koszęcin, Ludźmierz, Warszawa[4], Olsztyn, Wrocław[3], Bydgoszcz, Tarnów and Łomża [5]. In 1999, Father Zązel went with alcohol-free couples to Rome, where they were blessed by Pope John Paul II.

Speakers and preachers

Among the speakers, who usually come from the local communities, there also some prominent and well-known ones in Poland, such as:

Artists

Folk singers and dancers as well as orchestras from Polish mountains (Gorals) are accompanying practically all the meetings. Folk groups from other regions appear occasionally as well like from Kujawy, Kurpie or Silesia. But also (former or current) pop stars come frequently to give concerts, for example Magda Anioł and her band, Antonina Krzysztoń, Viola Brzezińska with the 'New Day' group as well as Jarosław Wajek, a former vocalist of the "Oddział Zamknięty" rock band.

Alcohol Free Weddings

A central reason for the Wedding of the Weddings event is the general resistance in Poland (and also in other countries) against weddings where no alcohol is served. To combat the feeling of being strangers to this culture and in Polish society, many of those couples seeking alcohol-free weddings also sought out other like-minded people with whom to socialize and celebrate.

The non-alcoholic weddings differ from the ones where alcohol is served. The wedding ceremony is usually extended by the reading of a special blessing (and acknowledgement) from the local bishop. Through this, the wedding reception does not only become exceptional because of the absence of alcohol and everything associated with alcohol, but it is also marked by other traditions and attractions. As toasts in Poland are almost by definition associated with alcohol, they are either removed entirely or replaced by table speeches, goat's milk toasts, songs in honor of the married couple and their parents and so on. As Polish wedding receptions are usually all night long events, usually the alcohol goes some way into keeping the guests awake and amused late at night. A non-alcoholic wedding differs significantly from this as dishes are served regularly, must be of comparable quality all the time, the orchestra has to play all the time and the party is enriched by various group dances (such as the polonaise, [line dances]], "travel dances", skill dances (zorba, mountain folk dances), games and competitions for the participants. Usually professional entertainers, who undertook special courses for non-alcoholic party entertainment ( wodzirej) are employed during the reception to organize and run the entertainment program.

The vast majority of non-alcoholic weddings are organized by free-choice abstinents (not to be confused with recovering alcoholics). It is a matter of lifestyle, not of medical treatment[5].

Non-alcoholic Lifestyle (Sober Lifestyle)

Another aspect shared by the participants of the Wedding of the Weddings is the non-alcoholic lifestyle. All family parties, like the ones connected to birthdays or name days of the parents or children, meetings with friends or friends of children, New Year parties, church-associated celebrations (baptism, first communion, wedding, funeral) are organized without alcohol.

Moreover, the couples and their children are also frequently engaged in some abstinence societies[6].

References

  1. "Ruch Wesele Wesel" (in Polish: “Action Wedding of the Weddings”), in. APOSTOŁ TRZEŹWOŚCI 2006 (in Polish: Apostle of Sobriety), Annals of the Polish Catholic Bishop Conference), page. 108
  2. weselewesel.pl/en Website of the meeting of 2007 in Bydgoszcz and subsequent ones in English, German and Polish
  3. D. R. Zimnoch: "Wesele Wesel - Kamesznica'95.” (In Polish: Wedding of the Weddings – Kamesznica’95”), in: Hale i Dziedziny. Miesięcznik Ziem Górskich, 1995, nr 5-6 (57-58), pages. 14-15. (Polish journal "Monthly of the Mountains")
  4. ekai.pl Wesele wesel: do trzeciej, bez alkoholu (in Polish: Wedding of the Weddings, till three o’clock in the morning without alcohol), Article of the news agency KAI of 2004, "Wedding of the Weddings without alcohol" covers the 2009 event.
  5. www.parpa.pl Webpage of the State Agency for the Prevention of Alcohol-Related Problems (in Polish) on the Wedding of the Weddings in 2009. Use its search engine to find notes on earlier events (enter Wesele Wesel)
  6. B. Synajewska: Bezalkoholowe uroczystości rodzinne jako element wychowania w trzeźwości (in Polish: Nonalcoholic feasts in the family as an element of education for sobriety). M.Sc. Thesis. University of Łódź, 2005.

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