How Old Is the Tradition of Using a Huppah?


A classic image of a bride and groom under a huppah: Die Trauung, The Wedding, by Moritz Oppenheim (1866).

The huppah (also often spelled huppa or chuppah) became a part of the Jewish wedding ceremony during the Middle Ages in Europe, about the same time and place that men began covering their heads with kippot (yarmulkes). The Middle Ages sounds like a long time ago, but when you consider that Judaism is 5,000 years old, the wedding huppah is a tradition with a lot of youthful energy.

The painting on the right shows a wedding ceremony in the European medieval Jewish tradition. The bride and groom are marrying outside a synagogue, surrounded by family and community. The couple stand together, with a tallit (prayer shawl) draped over their heads and across their shoulders.

The earliest huppah poles were only a few feet tall. Four young men would hold the poles as they escorted the bride, who walked under the huppah, from her home to the synagogue. These days, when we don’t walk the huppah through the streets of town, longer poles that rest on the ground are much more practical (and a lot easier on your huppah bearers.) See huppah poles…


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Filed under Huppah Traditions, Huppahs, Jewish Wedding Ceremony

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