Over the past year, I have gotten to know a wonderful young woman named Ulviyye (“Ulya”). She serves as one of my three incredible assistants who help make my classroom functional each and every day. In Spring, Ulya announced she would be marrying Gunduz in the Fall. Such wonderful news!
Now, weddings in Azerbaijan are quite different than those you might attend in the States. Buying the right wedding gift is never an issue, since you are simply expected to give in the form of money. The tradition is that you give enough to cover your meal, which is more food than you could ever eat, plus a little extra. The standard amount depends on the wedding venue. There are boxes in the back set up with envelopes for you to place your gift in and write your congratulations. You place your envelope in the box that corresponds to the party who invited you. It is pretty straight forward. It also makes figuring out an appropriate wedding gift in the land of Az that much easier.
Alright, so the food. I mean, so. much. food. Kebabs, fruits, vegetables, olives, nuts, Russian salads, blinchikis with cream cheese, potatoes, baked chicken, and bread. Plus, you have almost any kind of drink that might quench your thirst. Alcoholic? Non-alcoholic? Juice? Water? Vodka? Tea? So many options! It’s a good thing, too, because you will be needing a lot of hydration! At an Azerbaijani wedding, you dance. A lot. We even had a pretty solid three song set just for those of us who work with Ulya. You dance and dance. Sometimes you form little mobs around the newlyweds and dance around them. Every so often, they form a line and dance hand-in-hand around the entire room. It’s basically an Azerbaijani conga line. Traditions here aren’t so different from home, I suppose.
Now, I am sure there are a million things I could explain more after some research. Most of the articles I found online refer to old traditions, so I am not 100% sure on what the differences are between old and new. Hopefully once Ulya returns to school later this week, I will learn more and pass along my newly founded knowledge.