What are stefana? Stefana, or stephana, are head crowns used in the crowning of the bride and groom during the Christian Orthodox church wedding ceremony. Various styles abound and they may be simple or elaborate in style. Crowns must be round (or oval) and they are joined together by a single ribbon.
Who provides the crowns? Traditionally, the koumbaros or koumbara - the wedding sponsor(s) - provide the wedding crowns to the marrying couple (in today's time, however, it may as easily be the marrying couple). Selection of the stefana can be made by the Koumbaros or koumbara or with the input of the marrying couple.
What color should the crowns be? The crowns and ribbon are traditionally white, but over the past 70 years or so,
crown color has expanded popularly into gold crowns, silver crowns, pearl crowns, and
ivory crowns. As well, ribbon colors have evolved beyond white to
off-white, gold, and a number of organza colors.
What is the symbolism behind the crowns?
The crowns are signs of glory and honor during the Sacrament of Holy
Matrimony. God symbolically crowns the couple as the king and queen of
their own kingdom and home. The ribbon, which joins the two crowns,
How are the crowns used in the ceremony? The crowns are used during the Crowning or Stepsis portion of the wedding ceremony.
During the actual crowning, the sponsors / koumbaroi will stand
behind the marrying couple and hold the crowns over the couple's head.
The priest will do several prayers and petitions asking God to bless
the marriage and grant a life of love, fidelity, trust, understanding,
healthy children, happiness and prosperity. The koumbara or koumbaros
will hold the crowns in each hand and cross his/her arms to switch the
crowns to the partner and switch it back again.
At the end of the third prayer, the priest, who calls upon God "to join
them into one mind and one flesh," unites the right hands of the groom
and bride, an act, which depicts the unbreakable and everlasting unity
of the couple.
The priest will then take the crowns and holding them
above the couple, says: The servants of Godů are crowned in the name of
the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen."
Following the crowning is the reading of the Epistle and the Gospel.
The Gospel reading describes the marriage at Cana in Galilee, which was
attended and bless by Christ, and for which He performed His first
miracle. There, h=He converted water into wine and gave it to the
In remembrance of this blessing, wine is given to the
couple. This is the "common cup" of life denoting the mutual sharing of
joy and sorrow, the token of a life of harmony. The drinking of wine
from the common cup serves to impress upon the couple that from that
moment on they will share everything in life, joys as well as sorrows,
and that they are to "bear one another's burdens." Their joys will be
doubled and their sorrows halved because they will be shared.
The priest leads the bride and groom in a circle around the Holy Table.
On the Holy Table are the Gospel and the Cross - the Gospel is the word
of God and the Cross symbolizes redemption by Jesus. The couple circle
the Holy Table three times showing that they will revolve their life
around Jesus Christ who is the center of life.
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