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Ksenia kisses the icon depicting Christ, held by her father and given to Andrij, while her mother looks on. The two icons, presented to the couple, will hang in their conjugal home. In the past the blessing was accompanied by a song about love and unity in the family.
Katrina Thomas's notes: Ukrainians number perhaps a million today in the U.S., and even more in Canada. When the Ukraine was under Soviet subjugation, those who settled abroad were determined to revive their culture in a new land, and pass on relevant customs to future generations. To this end they establish Plast, their scouts organization, to which both boys and girls belong, and which fosters relationships that may end in marriage. Although most embrace the Orthodox Christian faith, the weddings I am able to photograph are Eastern Rite Catholic. Before the nuptials, the parents bless their children, using bread or icons. A bridal procession follows, and at the feast, instead of sharing a white wedding cake, they have their own ritual breads, korovai, which are decorated with twigs, herbs, flowers, and symbols in dough. The celebration ends soon after the maiden bride accepts the Slavic headgear of a married woman. However, today this rite is often omitted. Ukrainians, seeking a better life, still come to the U.S.