The chuppah is more than simply a cloth canopy under which a couple stands during a Jewish wedding ceremony. It is symbolic of home and family that the couple will create and maintain during their life together. The chuppah also represents hospitality, which is illustrated in the biblical story of Abraham who was known for his open tent so that travelers coming from any direction could gain entrance on all four sides without disruption. Thus, the chuppah serves as a symbol of hospitality towards the guests in attendance.
The Legal Side
The chuppah is not merely a charming folk custom, but serves the following two purposes as well:
- The decisive act that formally legitimizes the couple’s status of marriage
- The legal conclusion of the marriage process that began with betrothal
Symbolism of the Canopy
The cloth covering of the chuppah was originally draped around the bride and groom during the ceremony, but was later changed so that it fastened to the four support poles to spread out over their heads. The cloth represents the following:
- Considered as an object of Jewish ceremonial art
- A symbol of a Jewish home filled with lots of love
- Act as an example to the couple of how their home is to emulate the patriarchal forbear
The Great Outdoors
The most ideal setting for a Jewish wedding with a chuppah is outdoors, under the sky and the stars, which symbolizes the hope that the couple will have a large family. However, some synagogues have skylights that open to allow the chuppah ceremony to be performed under the sky.
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