Thursday, August 18, 2016
Priests Protest Against Fathers Walking Brides Down The Aisle
Via Radio Sweden: Priests around Sweden are speaking out against the tradition of handing over the bride at church weddings, saying it treats women as objects to be transferred from father to groom. The tradition of handing over the bride may be an old and, according to some, conservative one, but it is fairly new in Sweden. The ritual is not part of traditional Swedish wedding ceremonies and hardly occurred in the 1990s. However, it has become more and more popular in recent years. Some say couples who practice it have likely been influenced by Hollywood movies. Another theory is that the practice has seen a boost since the Swedish royals began to incorporate it in their weddings, with the King handing over the princesses to their grooms. Among the priests who take issue with the tradition is Georgina McEwan, a retired minister who still officiates weddings around Stockholm. Like many of her colleagues within the Church of Sweden, McEwan prefers “the Swedish way”, that is couples walking toward the altar and the priest together. Some priests even refuse to officiate weddings that include the giving away the bride ritual, but McEwan does not go that far, saying she will not forbid it because in the end it is up to the couples to decide. However, McEwan does try to explain the symbolism behind the practice to couples, telling them that it “turns the bride into a thing”. That is what it was like in the Middle Ages, say McEwan, “when the girl didn’t have the permission to be herself and to choose her husband but was married because it was a royal union or a political union or whatever and it was the father and mother who decided”. McEwan says that when she speaks to couples who are planning their weddings, they do not usually share that interpretation, but simply think handing over the bride is a “sweet” tradition. There are also other fairly new trends in Swedish weddings, like using modern love songs or other musical arrangements during the church service, explains McEwan. “An awful lot of time is put into the preparation by the bridal couple for the actual service whereas when I started off as a minister, the service was what the priest organised. But now people are sort of taking over and saying ‘this is my wedding and I will organise it the way I want to’ ”. “Some couples even say 'must you talk about God?’ or ‘do you have to have Jesus there?’ and then I have to say, ‘well you have chosen a Christian service with a Christian minister in a Christian church. Of course Christ will be there’ ”, says McEwan.