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Korovai: Ukraine’s Traditional Wedding Bread

11. December 2012 by Dasha 0 Comments

Cakes play an important role in Western weddings, but in Ukraine the symbolic food of choice is an ancient type of bread known as korovai. Here are a few interesting facts about Ukraine’s traditional wedding bread. 


Originating in Eastern Europe, korovai is traditionally large, round, and braided. Symbolic figures such as birds and suns may adorn the bread, while herbs, nuts, flowers, or coins might serve as decoration. Much like cakes in the West, korovai can be very simple or quite elaborate. Many korovai come in tiers and look a lot like the elaborately-decorated cakes you’d see in the States. Each region of Ukraine has its own style of korovai, though the colors red, gold, and silver appear often.

Korovai Traditions

Korovai preparation is steeped in ancient tradition. Women known as korovainytsi traditionally prepared the bread in the bride’s home, singing songs and overseeing the baking process. Seven korovainytsi was standard, though any odd number of helpers was acceptable. The women who prepared the bread had to be married as Ukrainians believed korovai makers passed on a piece of their fate to the bride and groom. If twisted korovai emerged from the oven, family and friends considered it a bad omen. Cracked bread symbolized a divorce.

Korovai’s Role in Weddings

Korovai plays a key role in traditional Ukrainian weddings. The bread accompanies the couple to the church where family members place it in a visible spot as the bride and groom recite their vows. The symbolic food then travels with couple to the reception hall where it receives a place of honor on a wreath of periwinkle, a traditional symbol of love and purity. The bride and groom split the top half of the korovai and then share the bread with their wedding guests.

Korovai Recipe

Sources/Resources: Ukraine Marriage Guide, Wikipedia