All of you keep asking me… “Akis… when are you going to get married? When are you going to get married?”
The answer to that question is “I don’t know!” What I do know is that it really is one of the most important days in a person’s life.
In Greece the ceremony is connected with many customs and traditions in all parts of Greece, which have to do with all things to do with weddings, from all the preparations all the way to the food served.
I thought I would share some of the customs to do with sweets and pastries for weddings from various parts of Greece. I thought it might be interesting for you!
Let’s start with the simplest of all… honey and walnuts. When I was little I remember seeing the newlyweds being given a spoonful of honey and walnuts that usually came out of a really beautiful glass with carvings on it!
It gave the couple a sweet taste from the honey with a crunchy texture from the walnuts. It would give them a very pleasant aftertaste. Walnuts symbolize fertility! On the island of Crete they would give honey and walnuts to bachelors to prepare them for the future big day!
Another sweet with a few more ingredients involved is the so called “dryfritters”… “xerotigana”. These were also made in Crete where customs and traditions are still kept very much alive but also on other islands such as the island of Naxos and in Kalamata which is on the Peloponnese peninsula. They were usually offered to the wedding guests.
Apart from these “dryfritters” others would choose to offer “diples” or Cinnamon Honey Sesame Walnut Squares as a sweet. They are difficult to make but equally delicious.
And apart from these great sweet treats there is of course the traditional Baklava which was also favored in many areas of Greece for an after wedding sweet. Walnuts in general are considered one of the foods that help you become more fertile.
Let’s not forget that in older times, people did not have the means or money for great elaborate weddings. Life was harder and a wedding period was a period of celebration. Food was abundant so that the couple could grow strong enough in order to be strong enough to cope with their new life!
Breads, both sweet and savory were offered at weddings. There were also the bread wreaths made on the island of Crete and in Messenia, the southwestern part of the Peloponnese. These bread wreaths were mostly quite savory and intricately ornate from the very talented women who had been making them for years. I believe they were offered to the guests just as the present day wedding cake.
The bread wreath just like the Christmas Bread or “Christopsomo” that I shared with you a couple of months ago, were always cut into pieces by hand and whoever cut the biggest piece won!
Let’s get back to the Baklava…. During my research I found that people would make baklava in many areas of Greece but in some places it was made with almonds instead of the traditional walnuts. It was considered to be more successfully made when it was as white as possible. So it had to be cooked in very low heat and the almonds helped keep the color as light as possible.
Almonds are another type of nut that is greatly connected with weddings since the ancient times. A type of almond liqueur called “soumada” or “orgeat syrup” was offered at weddings. In the winter it was served with a little ground cinnamon and in the summer it was served chilled with a lot of ice cubes.
Traditional macaroons were also very popular especially in the areas of Artaki, Euboea and the island of Lesvos.
Now when it comes to weddings one can’t overlook the dagrees! These sugar coated almonds are called “koufeta” in Greek and are the most popular of all treats.
In Ancient Greece one of the most popular and common sweets were honey coated almonds. The honey coated almond made its way to Ancient Rome and then to the rest of Europe. Years later the sugar coated almond was created and has come to be known as the crunchy dagrees!
In those days, sugar was a very expensive commodity and of course sweets containing sugar were scarce and considered luxury items. So the dagrees or koufeto became a luxury sweet and due to its white color was connected to weddings.
Wedding favors filled with dagrees are very popular in Greece. They are usually added in odd numbers 9-7-5 or even just 1 symbolizing that the couple will act as one unit. I actually found all of this out when I was doing research on it!
Nowadays you can find a wide variety of dagrees. Apart from the classic sugar coated one, there are chocolate covered or have fruit tastes and even the flavors of different sweets!
In any case it is considered the wedding sweet! The latest fad, which is actually an older tradition, calls for koufeta to be on the bride and grooms table where the guests can wish the couple their best and also grab a little sweet treat! So there should be an assortment of flavors to fit every sort of taste!
I hope I’ve given you lots of great ideas. I will be waiting for all of your pictures with all of your favorite sweets and also for you to share what your favorite flavor of koufeta are!!