Jewish wedding receptions are a time for joyous celebration, much food, laughter, and of course, lively, traditional Jewish dances that have been passed down through the generations.
These dances are often referred to as “circle dances” and were designed to allow the guests to bless the couple as well as to reflect the idea that their love should be like a circle, infinite and never-ending.
Perhaps the most famous and recognized dance at Jewish weddings is the lively and energetic Hora. The bride and groom hold opposite ends of a handkerchief while being lifted into the air on chairs by the guests who are honoring them as King and Queen of the night. Also known as the Hava Nagila. It is available as a documentary where you can learn all about it. It is called Hava Nagila (The Movie). You can find it on Netflix and DVD.
A large circle of family and friends will form around them and move in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction while incorporating various dance movements such as grapevine like steps, kicks, weaving, and bopping. The circle will often come in close around the couple and then expand.
Another traditional Jewish wedding dance is the Krenzl and is performed when the last daughter is married. The mother of the bride is seated on a chair in the center of a circle formed by family and friends. She is then crowned with flowers while her daughters and other female guests dance around her.
Yet another variation of this dance is known as the Mizinke Tanz and occurs when the last child of a family is married. In this case, both parents are seated on chairs in the center of a circle while guests dance around them and come in to kiss them as a way of offering congratulations.
The Gladdening of the Bride is usually performed at the end of the reception. Guests will circle the bride and dance while singing praises about her.
Traditional Jewish wedding dances are an integral part of the wedding reception and attest to a rich cultural heritage as well as a desire to respect time-honored Jewish customs and traditions.