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polka bridal dance

  • 01 July 2023 7:35 PM
    Reply # 13222665 on 13190941

    Folk Song and Dance

    Lemkos have been characterized as singing all the time -- singing while they work, and having songs for both ceremonies and for play.  Therefore, it is not surprising that the number of Lemko folk songs is varied and vast.  However, it is usually only women who sing while working.  A particular tradition is that when a girl starts to sing, another girl joins in, then many others, until the song is heard over the whole village.  Men seldom sing while working; usually only at festivities.  Most of the songs are of native origin, especially the wedding and humorous songs.  The melodies of the native Lemko songs show a remarkable variety of forms, rich ornamentation, and a wide rhythmic range.  Some are variants of widely known Ukrainian songs, and others are of eastern Slovak origin with dialectal changes.

    An example of the latter is the lyrics and music of "rjadovyj", the "bridal dance."  The Slovak and Lemko melodies are extremely similar, by variation of the lyrics is more evident.

    Radovy (Eastern Slovak)

    Nasa mlada recec ce (2)

    Nechcela jejs pere ce. (2)

    Nasa mlada jak babka(2)

    Za cepila ju svatka (2)

    Jak se Pan Boh raduje (2)

    Ket starosta tancuje.(2)

    A ket svatka ne moze (2)

    Ta jej druzhba pomoze (2)

    Rjadovyj (Lemko)

    Nasha mlada jak sosna (2)

    Lem pre tebe vyrosla. (2)

    Vozmi ty ko sobi(2)

    A myluj ju do smerty. (2)

    Nja sja Pan Boh raduje(2)

    Mlada z mladym tancuje. (2)

    Na taniri shcherbyna (2)

    Naj daruje rodyna (2)

    Our young bride is like the sun

    She was raised only for you

    Come close to her

    And cherish her till death.

    Let the Lord God rejoice

    The bride is dancing with the groom

    The gift is on the plate

    Let the family donate.

    But also FYI, the female blogger of this discussion continues with the following:


    Another ritual that is involved in the Redovy is putting the bridal "headgear" on the bride before the start of the dance.  I say "headgear" because this can range from elaborate embroidered caps (more common in the Czech version, as Czechs were generally more affluent) to bonnets and headscarves.  Here's a picture of some Slovak women in full kroj (pronounced "kroy"), or traditional folk costume.  They are removing the bride's veil to put the cap on her:

    This symbolizes the bride's transition from unmarried to married woman.  The colors used in a woman's kroj are often specific to the village she is from, similar to the use of heraldic devices on banners and shields.  It's rare to see women in the states dress up in full kroj for the bridal dance, but some do still choose to don the traditional bonnet or scarf.  You can also make your own using brightly colored cloth and ribbon like this: (No Picture provided)

    Yes, I plan to wear one. :)

    How the Dance Works:

    This typically varies depending on the bride's heritage, so I'd love to hear how others do it.  For us, the money is handled by a starosta who is sort of the master of ceremonies.  In our family this is typically the maid of honor or a bridesmaid who wears an apron, and guests will give their money to the starosta in order to have a dance with the bride.  After that the guest is given a shot of alcohol (or, in my family, candy for the kids) and a napkin.  The guest then takes his or her place in a circle around the bride and waves his or her napkin in the air in time to the polka and sings along.  By the time everyone in line has finished, the bride is surrounded by wedding guests and many, many napkins!

    At this point it is time for the groom to attempt to whisk his new wife off her feet and carry her away.  I say "try" because at this point all the male relatives lock arms and the groom has to try and break through to get to her! Of course, this is a more of a jokey thing where the relatives will let him through after a few tries, heh!  Then the groom picks the bride up and carries her away!  My fiancé’s currently lifting weights to get in shape, hee, hee!


    This is hard to say.  Since the tradition is tied more to ethnic groups than to a particular location, it's not a good idea to generalize and say it's an East Coast thing or a Northeast thing or whatever.

    I hope that everyone here found this entry informative, and I would be glad to answer questions people might have about this tradition; I want to make it crystal clear that the Redovy isn't about how much of a "haul" the couple can get from guestsIt's about honoring familial ties, celebrating heritage, and creating a sense of community.  For all of you who took a few minutes out of your day to read this, thank you.

    End of "dativesingular's" discussion.

  • 01 July 2023 7:30 PM
    Reply # 13222664 on 13190941

    The following is an edited (for grammatical mistakes) discussion on the “dollar dance” as found at https://weddingplans.livejournal.com/12521465.html

    Dec. 17th, 2007 at 5:20 PM

    It is written by a dativesingular, which when opened reads: “This (her) journal has been deleted and purged. You can rename your account with this username.”  So, since 2007, this live journal is no longer active, or she (dative singular) has discontinued using this address.

    And reading some of the live journal entries, apparently one of the readers of the aforementioned wedding pans.livejournal.com was upset over her parents wanting to have the “Money Dance” at her wedding.

    And she in turn responded:

    Hey all. I've gotten in touch with lizzie9208 over the drama that erupted yesterday over the "dollar dance".

    And in response, and apparently of a Slovak (or Carpatho Rus) family, she continues:

    Given some of the reactions about the topic “Money Dance”, (plus the fact that this is a recurring issue in here??, the live journal??) we've both agreed that it would be really helpful to the community to have an entry that explains in specific detail the different rituals and traditions that are involved in the Redovy (it can also be spelled "Radovy" or "Rjadovyj"--my family pronounces it "rah-dov-ye"), or Bridal Dance.  I'm providing a reference about this not only to help improve the community's knowledgebase, but also to prevent such disputes from happening in the future.

    Most people are either not familiar with the tradition of the Bridal Dance at all, or are only familiar with a more "watered-down" of it that they heard about secondhand.  My goal here is to dispel of some of the misconceptions about the Redovy, and to help others who might not be familiar with it to realize that it is in fact a tradition (complete with its own traditional folk music and costume, which I will talk about later) that is very important to the ethnic identity of many Slovak-Americans like myself.

    As such, it demands the same kind of respect that we give other ethnic wedding traditions, such as the Jewish breaking of the glass, … or the African-American jumping of the broom--certainly no one would want to apply the term "tacky" to them.

    This dance is also practiced by Czechs, Hungarians (Magyar), Lemko, Rusyns and other Eastern and Southern European groups.  In this post, I'll be explaining how it's done from the perspective “of my own particular heritage and family experience”, but I warmly encourage anyone with similar information to share from their families and heritage to provide it in the comments so we can all learn from each other.

    The tradition itself originated as a folk dance performed when a young girl was married, and typically the whole village would come together to celebrate (as many were probably extended family anyway).  People in these villages were poor country peasants to begin with, and so they would all contribute a little bit of money to help the newlyweds in their new life together.  

    Most Slovak-Americans are descended from these peasant groups--I know my own Baba and Zeddo (I was fortunate enough to know my great-grandparents before they passed away) came over to America with absolutely nothing, not even a word of English.

    However, what they (and many others like them) were able to bring were their rich traditions from their homeland.

    Song and Music:

    One of the most common misconceptions about the Redovy is that it's about the groom "whoring" out his wife to the wedding guests in exchange for money. This could not be further from the truth, and the meaning is reflected in the lyrics to the traditional folk song that is often sung during the dance. I've copy-pasted some (translated) verses for you that I feel really exemplify what the Redovy is about:

    Our young bride is like the sun (Repeat)

    She was raised only for you (Repeat)

    Come close to her (Repeat)

    And cherish her till death. (Repeat)

    Let the Lord God rejoice (Repeat)

    The bride is dancing with the groom (Repeat)

    The gift is on the plate (Repeat)

    Let the family donate. (Repeat)

    There are many, many more verses that can be sung, and often vary from family to family--and some are quite raunchy!)  For more verses and to hear the traditional polka that is played during the Redovy, click here (it's a MIDI that plays in the background, so brace yourself).  Since the melody repeats itself ("This is the song that never ends, yes it goes on and on my friends."     heh, heh) the DJ will just set the track on loop until all the guests have danced.  

    More information on the role of song in these cultures (and some lyrics as well) can be found here (which links you to the following), and as found at the following website: 


    JNemeth comment: For convenience of the readers, I have copied the write-up entitled “Folk Song and Dance in MS word to be able to add it on my next response.

  • 01 July 2023 12:18 PM
    Reply # 13222601 on 13190941

    Now, the lyrics are going through my head. But as I know the words, I would not be able to write them. For my wedding in 1971, I had a bridal dance. We followed family traditions of the bride taking off her veil and replacing it with a specially sewn white babushka. A new sewn white apron was worn by the maid of honor to hold the dollars collected from those who wanted to  dance with the bride.  For the men, there was a shot of whiskey. Then the very last dance everyone circled the bride and the groom had to get through to scoop up the bride and carry her away.   I have very fond memories of that  day so long ago. 

    Do you remember?    

  • 01 July 2023 9:32 AM
    Reply # 13222562 on 13190941

    Yes please post the lyrics to the bridal polka dance. i love that song. It brings tears and memories when I hear It.

    Thank You

  • 30 June 2023 4:48 PM
    Reply # 13222363 on 13190941

    Mrs. Taveira-dasilva,  Out of curiosity, I looked in to information on the Bridal Dance, and to the latest generation of the more affluent couples, it is called the "money Dance", and an embarrassment to some couples, with one or both of Slovak, Carpathian Rus, and also Polish ancestry,

      And the medley is based on a Slovak folk song, which with both Sovak and Polish immigrants, in the coal mining towns, started a tradition that has evolved over the years to the Bridal Dance ceremony.  And bands picked up on it and have added both Polish and Slovak lyrics, both from locals singing it to added versions of it.  But nowhere have I found written text lyrics., except from a young lady bac in 2007 who wrote a nice history on it, with both Lemko, Slovak, and English lyrics, based on a more traditional weddings back in Europe. And since she no longer has the internet address, with name unknown, I copied and re-edited it, but to send it will take at least 3 posts.  But worth it as it has the lyrics.

    If interested, I can post it with your recommendation to do so. But note that it may not be what your son's band will be singing, if they strictly sing Polish medleys.  Today, in the Western PA area, true Slovak polka bands are hard to find.  So, congratulations on your son's upcoming wedding.  And awaiting your reply on this forum.

    God Bless you!

  • 04 May 2023 11:05 AM
    Message # 13190941

    Does anyone know the words to the traditional polka bridal dance.? It has been played at every Rusyn wedding i have ever been to. All my relatives had this must do bridal dance song. My son i getting married in July and it will be the last family wedding. I would love to be able to tell his bride what they are singing.

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