March 14, 2003: Headlines: COS - Moldova: Weddings: Washington Evening Journal : RPCV Michelle Haberer writes about weddings in Moldova

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Moldova: Peace Corps Moldova : The Peace Corps in Moldova: March 14, 2003: Headlines: COS - Moldova: Weddings: Washington Evening Journal : RPCV Michelle Haberer writes about weddings in Moldova

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, January 16, 2005 - 2:50 pm: Edit Post

RPCV Michelle Haberer writes about weddings in Moldova

RPCV Michelle Haberer writes about weddings in Moldova

Moldovans rely on wedding gifts to set up housekeeping

By:Michelle Haberer March 14, 2003

In the Bridal Edition included in today's paper, there are articles featuring Russian, Mexican and American weddings which offer the opportunity to discover a few similarities and differences between these cultures. Michelle Haberer lived and worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Moldova for three years. While there she lived with a host family, and her eldest host-brother, Serjiu, was married. She had a firsthand look at the entire wedding process, beginning to end.

Moldova, itself, has a fascinating mix of cultural and political influence. It is located between Romania and Ukraine. The ethnic and cultural heritage of Moldovans is mostly Romanian, but there are Ukrainians on the eastern side. There are also a number of Russians that stayed behind after the "breakup" of the USSR, small groups of Roma people (Gypsies) scattered throughout the country, and a population of mixed Turkish descent; remnants of the Ottoman empire that possess a language unique to the region of "Gagauzia," where they live.

There are also, of course, the changes effected by the Soviet Union. This 50-year influence can be seen in every aspect of Moldovan existence, from the way one cares for one's shoes to the current "system" of democracy in the country.

Like in the Russian weddings you may read about in the Bridal Edition, there is a very strong separation of church and state in Moldova, and couples are married in two ceremonies. Legally, they marry in the eyes of the state at "zaks" - a county office which handles birth, marriage and death certificates, passports and IDs. According to Orthodox tradition they must also marry in a church in a separate ceremony.

The break down of the Soviet Union was marked by an economic downfall. There is nothing in Moldova that has not been touched by the last 13 years of poverty.

The average salary for Moldovans is $20 - $30 per month. The minimum cost of living for an individual is $100 per month. The average apartment in a small town costs upwards of $1000, without a heating system installed. Private transportation is not given serious thought. Most depend on subsistence farming to survive.

Weddings in Moldova are not just celebrations, but fund-raisers. Very rarely do families have the ability to save enough money for a wedding and a new apartment and furniture for the young couple. Moldovan gifts are usually monetary and the family depends upon the generosity of their guests to help them set up a new household.

Haberer's host mother, Svetlana, had added difficulty, in that the bride's parents are unemployed with an extremely limited income from selling sunflower seeds. They claimed to have no friends or family that could help in the preparations or who would want to come to the wedding. They wanted Serjiu and their daughter Arina to be married civilly only, but Svetlana knew that, though the planning would be difficult, they needed the monetary assistance of their family and friends.

©Washington Evening Journal 2003

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Washington Evening Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Moldova; Weddings



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