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Circling Ceremony

Circling is a great example of a custom with multiple variations that is attributed to many different sources. This tradition can be added to Larry's "romantic" ceremony. The minister can offer a brief explanation for your non-Jewish guests, if requested.

In the Jewish tradition, after the bride and groom first enters the huppah (a canopy traditionally used in Jewish weddings), or the bride walks to the alter escorted by her father, the bride circles the groom seven times, representing the seven wedding blessings and seven days of creation, and demonstrating that the groom is the center of her world.

The number seven is generally considered a number of good fortunes in Judaism. One explanation for the number seven is that it symbolizes the removal of seven shells of solitude encrusting the groom's soul, so that it can be encompassed by the luminescence of his bride.

Some sources indicate that circling is done to represent the seven revolutions that the earth made during the seven days of creation. As the marriage represents the creation of a new world, the bride walks around the groom to indicate that these seven cycles are now being repeated.

While there are many interpretations of the bride's symbolic path, one states that when Joshua, the son of Nun and the student of Moses, led the children of Israel against the city of Jericho, he was instructed to circle the city seven times thereby inducing the walls of the city to crumble.

As two people enter into marriage there are many "walls" that exist between them. The couple faces the challenge of breaking down these walls so that they may learn to communicate and share more completely while they continue their growth as individuals.

Others say circling is intended to create a magical wall of protection from evil spirits, temptation, and the glances of other women. Some believe the bride is symbolically creating a new family circle. Today, the bride and the groom can circle together or around each other, demonstrating independent and complementary orbits.

Still others say it symbolizes the idea of the bride being a protective, surrounding light of the household that illuminates it with love from within and protects it from harm from the outside. The circling symbolically creates a new family circle where our primary allegiance shifts from our parents to each other.

In more contemporary weddings (like Larry's "romantic" wedding ceremony), the bride and groom may circle around each other rather than just the woman circling the man because some people are not comfortable with the man being the center of the universe.

So often a bride will walk around the groom three times, the groom will walk around the bride three times, and then they will join hands and walk together in a circle one time to symbolize a sacred circle and a mutual binding to each other.

While circling the groom 3 times has become accepted tradition over the years, the symbolism is the virtually the same that the bride and groom are about to create their own "new world" together.

In some traditions, the mothers of the bride and groom circle him as well. In another version, the bride is escorted on either side by a bridesmaid with a burning candle.

After the circling, the bride traditionally stands to the right of the groom although either side is a personal choice and is acceptable.

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