Traditional Jewish Wedding Songs and Dances | The Horah, Mezinke Tanz
Festive Jewish Wedding Songs and Dances
Not only does the Jewish wedding ceremony have a number of meaningful rituals, a Jewish wedding reception also has rich traditions of its own. These traditions represent the bride and groom and their changing relationship status. The traditional music and dances of a Jewish wedding play a strong role in the festive celebration.
There are a variety of traditional Jewish dances that take place at a Jewish wedding reception. These dances are paired with traditional songs, and the dance is performed by not only the bride and groom, but by other family members and guests as well.
The Horah is one of the most well known traditional wedding songs. Even if you are not Jewish, you have probably seen this dance portrayed in TV shows and movies. The Horah is performed to the song Hava Nagila or Klezmer. Hava Nagila is a Hebrew folk song, performed not only at weddings, but also at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. The words "hava nagila" means, "Let's rejoice." The song "Klezmer" is a traditional song of Ashkenazic Jews, and means "vessels of song," or "musical instrument."
To dance the Horah, all of the guests gather on the dance floor in a circle, moving back and forth while kicking their leg and making grapevine type steps. The bride and groom sit in chairs in the center of the circle, which are lifted into the air. The bride and groom each hold onto one end of a handkerchief. Often, immediate family are often lifted into the air, on chairs, as well.
Mezinke Tanz (Krenzl)
The Mezinke Tanz is another dance performed at a Jewish wedding reception when the last son or daughter in the family is getting married. For this dance, the mother is given a crown of flowers to wear on her head, and the parents sit in chairs in the middle of the dance floor and all of the guests dance around the joyous family. The Mezinke Tanz is danced to the song "Di Mezinke Oysgegebn," which translates to, "Away Our Youngest Daughter." A very special occassion is a "double mezinke" when both sets of parents have married off their last child.
Gladdening of the Bride
The traditional Jewish dance, the "Gladdening of the Bride" is performed at the end of the wedding reception. For this dance, there is no specific song that is used. Any traditional Jewish instrumental music is played, as long as it is upbeat and lively. For this dance, the guests form a circle on the dance floor, and the bride sits in the center of the circle. The guests dance around her in a circle, singing praises about her.
Read all of the articles in our Jewish Wedding Traditions series: