Thursday, November 19, 2009
This is a rushnyk. It's a Ukrainian word that literally translates to "towel," and is pronounced /HROOSH - neek/.
My husband lived in the Kyiv, Ukraine area for two years before we knew each other, and became familiar with a native custom there. As part of the wedding ceremony, a rushnyk would be laid on the floor in the place where the wedding was held. The new husband and wife would -- on the count of three -- simultaneously step onto the rushnyk. Tradition was that whomever touched first was the head of the house. Inevitably, in any home where he asked who stepped first, both claimed credit. Before he left Ukraine, he purchased a rusknyk of his own, to have for when he got married. At our reception, he explained the tradition, and then we did it. Of course, I touched first, but if you ask him...
See my runners-up here, along with a full view of the rushnyk.
Additionally, though I took "grunge" pictures within the time frame, I didn't get around to uploading or editing them until tonight, and I think it's waaaaay past the statute of limitations by now, but you can see them here if you'd like.