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Post details: Kidnapping of the Bride

Kidnapping of the Bride

We Czechs are mostly peaceful folks. We do have a lion on our insignia, but our demographics consists mostly of doves and lambs. We never really invaded anyone, with the rule confirming exception of a group of religiously strayed sheep known as Hussites who mildly pillaged few Polish villages in the 15th century. But when it comes to folklore customs and traditions, we can be pretty raw.

For instance, one of the lesser known Czech wedding traditions is the kidnapping of the bride. To the best of my recollection, it goes like this: during the reception or dinner, one of the groom's men marshals a little gang that lures the bride away from the festivities. Once away from the crowd, the bride is gently hustled into a car and kidnapped to a local restaurant. There they all engage in heavy drinking and having a merry time. The groom (or in some instances the father of the bride) then has to drive around town and upon finding his betrothed has to foot whatever bill the kidnapping party managed to perpetrate. Needless to say that a clever choice of the watering hole can befuddle even grooms with innate detective abilities and run the bill up into amounts representing significant percentage of the wedding costs.

So when I was invited to my niece's wedding few weeks ago, I was very curious whether this venerable tradition is still alive. Apparently, it is, although the proliferation of cell phones makes it easier on the groom these days. After a while, the bride just calls and provides enough positional hints for the search and rescue mission to be successful even if the groom's DNA doesn't contain any of Sherlock Holmes' genes.

And despite the strong waft of feminism, being kidnapped is still considered a matter of prestige. When I spoke with my nephew, who was a member of the kidnapping party, he told me that the bride was obviously concerned about her unkidnapped status, for as he jostled her into the car, she yelped: "Whew! I started to think nobody would kidnap me!"

So maybe even our traditions are not that atrocious after all. And when all is said and done, the bride has many colorful stories to tell her maidens.



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