Lodz - The Wedding

Trip Start Apr 04, 2008
Trip End Jul 01, 2008

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Flag of Poland  , Central Poland,
Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Lodz is a city that is being transformed.  There are building and road works everywhere and there are numerous vacant old red brick factory buildings.  One of the large factory complexes in the centre of town has been converted into a modern shopping centre that looks like any other shopping centre around the world; lots of brand name shops and a cinema complex. 
We walked the main street of Lodz which gave Danny a chance to catch up with his old musical mate Rubenstein who used to live there. 
We did a little sightseeing with Paul and Elaine who had arrived from Dublin but our main reason for being in Lodz was the wedding of Danny's work friend Joanna.  It was a beautiful and special wedding.  While there were many similarities with an Australian wedding there were also big differences.
Joanna and Lukasz arrived together in a cream coloured car with roses attached to the paintwork.  Two priests came out of the church to welcome them and then sang the mass.  Most people had bouquets which they presented to the bride outside the church.  Guests threw small coins on the ground which the bride and groom had to collect for good luck.
When the bride and groom arrived outside the reception they were presented with two vodka shot glasses tied together with a small piece of ribbon.  They drank the vodka then threw the glasses over their heads.  The glasses smashed on the pavers signifying good luck.  They were also presented with bread and salt by their parents to represent prosperity and the difficulties that life may bring.
We all entered the reception room and had to take a glass of champagne.  Some words were said and then everyone skulled their champagne.  We just took a sip but the people standing next to us indicated that we should finish it off in one go. 
There were lots of songs sung to encourage the bride and groom to kiss
The tables were laden with food when we sat down.  There were all sorts of salad (pickled cabbage), cold meats, lentils, bread, fruit, and chocolates.    We had a version of chicken noodle soup for entrée followed by roast chicken and schnitzels for main.
As soon as the main course was over everyone was up and dancing.  They basically danced all night long.  Everyone was dancing for about half an hour and a couple of Conga lines snaked their way around the tables and then everyone sat down for dessert.
There were bottles of vodka on the table and some soft drinks.  We all tried the vodka, Danny and Paul in particular.  There was more dancing with everyone dancing in couples.  They were very good and could have been contenders for a ballroom dancing competition.  Two hours later I thought we had finished dinner and then they brought around a type of sausage roll and beetroot soup.  More dancing, more vodka and two more hours later and they brought around serves of roast meat and rolled steak with small dumplings in gravy. 
The MC had everyone playing games.  The bridal party played a Simon Says type of game.  If they didn't do as required they had to skull a shot of vodka.   In another game Lukasz and Joanna took off one of their shoes, guests had to compete in a kind of game those who won had to run around the room, the girl kissing all the men and the guy kissing all the women in the room.     
I thought we had finished eating and then they brought around kebabs and steaks with pineapple and cheese and bowls of chips.
Then there was more vodka and more dancing.  Danny and Paul tried the home made vodka,70% proof which was available at the traditional food and sausage stand at the back of the room. 
Joanna and Lukasz lit a candle together.  Then the guests went up one by one and lit their candle from the wedding candle. All the lights were off and a romantic song played as the people danced holding their candles. It was very pretty.
We kept waiting for the speeches but they never came.  The cake arrived with two huge sparklers to the theme of Star Wars.
The Polish seem to know how to deal with the vodka; the Australians, Irish and Spanish, not so well.
We didn't want to leave before the bride and groom, not realising that in Polish tradition the bride and groom only leave after the last guest has gone.  We finally stumbled into bed at 5.30.
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