A Sicilian wedding baptism

It’s wedding season in Sicily, which means the usual array of pretty spring brides and grooms.

Many people finally get married after postponing their weddings for two years of Covid.

While others, funnily enough, have decided to make Covid babies and then celebrate a wedding and baptism together.

I’m sure my dear Sicilian grandparents would be surprised to see how much their deeply conservative Sicily has changed over the decades. In post-world war Sicily, no one was living together before marriage. Any child born out of wedlock was often anonymously given up for adoption to the church in specially constructed rotating doors where a newborn could be placed while not identifying the mother. The parish priest assigned the changelings (as they used to be called) random surnames. The adoption of many illegitimate children is a sad yet interesting part of Sicilian history which lasted well into the early 20th century. Hence the common use of surnames of places, towns, cities, random animals and objects reflected the presence of illegitimacy in a family.

I recently attended a wedding/baptism, and I have to say it was one of the most joyous celebrations I’ve ever seen. I’m sure my grandparents would have found it hard to disapprove as the family celebrated a new union and the joy of a new child.

Weddings in Italy are grand occasions, a lot of money is spent on gowns, food and presents. At my wedding in Australia, someone gave me a candelabra with some candles; no one would dream of doing so in Italy. Usually, gifts are brought to the bride’s or groom’s house before the wedding, where a unique display table is set up. The gifts are unwrapped and displayed for all to see. If you intend to give money, it is expected you will provide upwards of one hundred euros if you are a family, that goes up to at least one hundred euros per person. The amount of money may increase according to if you are family or a close friend.

Food is also fundamental at an Italian wedding. A usual wedding banquet usually consists of drinks and appetisers as guests arrive. Then, when the newlyweds arrive, there is an antipasto, followed by two first courses of pasta, two main courses, dessert, and the wedding cake.

I’m always surprised to see a lack of speeches or other formalities and very little dancing at Italian weddings.

But I have to say that this last wedding/baptism was filled with much Sicilian music, dancing and a genuine expression of joy.