Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Lithuanian Love Coin Wedding Tradition

I was the wedding disc jockey for a young couple of Lithuanian descent, about a month ago in Albany, NY, I can understand why their guests decided to shower them with money, because they were good people, but something just seemed a little odd. The cash gifts were not in cards at the gift table, but rather people showering the dance floor ...with coins!

As the first dance came to an end, the wedding party began to pour loads of silver dollars, quarters, and some smaller coins, around the dance floor corners. When the newlyweds finally made their exit, the guests hopped to it. They frantically picked up the coins and ran them over, one-by-one to a tall clear vase on the head table. Eventually, one person found and raised a specially marked coin in the air and demanded his dance with the bride.

I did my research and learned that the Lithuanian love coin wedding tradition idea originated from a 1500's Lithuanian town legend that would later resurface as a fad in the 1800's. Here is what our Disc Jockeys at could find about the original story that transformed into the wedding tradition we have today:

Back in a small Lithuanian village in the 1500's, a young man did not have enough money to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring. At that point with their country involved in one of the Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars, most men didn't have much money and had to be creative. What this man chose to do to profess his undying love, was to provide his bride-to-be with a personalized gift. He took a coin and spent many hours cleaning it, sanding it, and overall, turning it into a piece of beautiful art. When he was finished, one side now had a beautiful dove and both of their initials. When he presented this treasure to his lady and proposed, she of course said "yes." But the ceremony was, unfortunately, not to happen anytime soon. Soon after the proposal, the man was drafted off to war and would not able to first marry his true love for another ten years.

In the meantime, she waited and waited. As a symbol of their love, she treasured the coin and kissed it every night before bed, awaiting his return. One night, however, thieves broke into her house and stole her few valuables and put the coin in a bag. The girl awoke the next morning and was heartbroken.

Finally after ten years, the man returned to his home town as a hero. He found that his bride-to-be had waited eagerly and was very elated with his return, but very sad to confess the loss of the coin he had made for her. The man comforted her and decided to waste no more time. They planned their wedding for the weekend. The next day, the entire village passed word of the news. Come the weekend, it seemed that everybody came to what would have been a small wedding ceremony to show thanks to the man who fought so bravely for them for many years.

The guests felt badly, however, when no rings were exchanged during the ceremony and realized that the couple had no money. They learned that the wife had recently been robbed and decided to do something about it.

Between the ceremony and the reception, the villagers ran home. When they returned to the reception, they brought with them lots of food and presents in thanks to their war hero. When word got out during the first dance that their precious love coin had been stolen less than a year before his return, the villagers emptied their pockets and coin jugs onto the floor as gifts to the new husband and wife and everyone searched for the love coin, to see if the coin had since been re-circulated.

In the end the coin was, in fact, found and the couple lived happily ever after.

Today, some Lituaninas re-live this beautiful love story, in memory of this couple and the good people of the village. The guests bring loads of silver dollars, half dollars and quarters to weddings and throw them all over the dance floor. One of the coins is marked with bride and groom's initials. At the end of the first dance, the wedding party collect all of the coins for the newly weds and fill a clear vase, and the lucky person who finds the "love coin" gets a special dance immediately with either the bride or groom for their find.

LOVE COINS - If you are considering doing this tradition at your reception, you can make your very own Lituanian love coin, buy a hobo nickel, or you can try to find a vintage one with their initials on it. There are many vintage ones on! Check it out!