The Galičnik Wedding is held in the Galičnik village near the town of Debar, Macedonia. Every year on the holiday Feast of Saint Peter one couple has the privilege to get married in the oldest Macedonian wedding tradition in front of the eyes of a huge number of tourists from Macedonia and abroad who come to see the ceremony. The Galičnik wedding is open to public and the wedding guests are not being invited.
In the past, men from Macedonia’s poorer regions such as Galičnik migrated in order to earn money. Traditionally, they were sent away by the entire village by dancing the ,,Тешкото” (Teshkoto, a folk dance, literally “the hard one”) internationally considered one of the most challenging physical dances. Teshkoto is played only by men and it symbolizes the hardships of the Macedonians during the Ottoman occupation. Migrant workers returning to their home country shortly before the feast of St. Peter were entering the village with a song. The song stops before the house that has lost its man in country where he migrated to work.
The return home was crowned by the Galičnik wedding, on which in the past many couples were married.
Over time the customs of welcoming and sending of migrant workers have died. The Galičnik wedding is the only custom that has remained and it is cherished so that one will never forget the dark period of this region.
In the days of the wedding, the pipes scream and the drums echo the song “from Galichnik to Reka”. These companions of the migrant workers of this region of Macedonia, always announce the Galičnik wedding that has the most wedding guests. The Galičnik wedding with its existence contributed to nurture the unique wedding customs and rituals of the inhabitants of this region, to preserve folk songs, dances, and famous costumes made with filigree precision and the accuracy of the tailors.
Each year the Galičnik wedding registers about ten young people, who want to get married according to these customs. A special commission then chooses two young people who will get married on the Galičnik wedding. One of the prerequisites is at least one of the youth to come from a family from the Galičnik village.
Some of the customs are playing the drums and shaving the groom. A typical custom is the inviting of the deceased relatives to the wedding. The custom consists of visiting the graves of the dead where they pronounce three times: – Come to my wedding, but stand behind the door!
Taking the bride from her father’s house is one of the most specific wedding customs. The bride is standing at the window of the upper floor of her “father’s” house covered with veil over her head and sees the guests and her future spouse coming after her. Then she takes the engagement ring and she looks through it, with one eye, her future husband and utters these words three times –I see you through this ring, let me enter your heart! Hoping that as her sight got through the ring so would she sneak into her love’s heart and stay there forever. Then the bride is taken with a donkey, she is carried to the springs to take water and make the bread, as a sign and pledge to be a good wife who will take care of the family.
All participants must wear traditional wedding clothes specific to that area of the country that is handmade, richly ornate and very heavy.