Thursday, August 25, 2011

{La Traditions - The South Philly Serenade}

Earlier this year, we had the pleasure of attending a really unique (to us) tradition - the South Philly Serenade.  Our groom, Michael, a South Philly native, explained to us that the tradition stems back to the old country when young men would gather up their courage and sing love songs to their future wives the night before the wedding.  As Italians settled into the area of South Philly, they brought with them a very strong sense of community and of course their serenades. 

Photo by Kate Triano.
South Philly is comprised of small one way streets.  As soon as you set foot on a block and you get the feeling that the people are just as close together as the row homes that they live in.  And when it's time for one of their own to celebrate a wedding, everyone on the block comes out to support the young couple (and party, natch).  Unlike yesteryear in the old country, when a groom accompanied perhaps by a musician or two made his way to the bride and declared his love via song, modern serenades are an honest to goodness block party.  Lights are strung across the street (which is closed to traffic, of course), and neighbors start bringing out tables and chairs.  Women start appearing with tray after tray of delectable Italian dishes - from homemade pizzas to salads to sandwiches, and the cookies.... of course, the delicious cookies!  In the meantime, a full bar has been set-up as well as a DJ.  Before you know it, the block is filled with friends and family, laughing, dancing, eating, and drinking. 

Photo by Kate Triano.

As if that's not enough, some families hire Mummers to provide additional entertainment.  If you're not familiar with what Mummers are, Wikipedia can probably do them more justice than I.

Photo by Kate Triano.
Although incredibly exciting and entertaining, the Mummers are just the warm-up act.  The actual act of Serenading does still occur during the festivities.  The bride is brought to the top of the front steps, and the groom takes the mic.  The crowd closes in and waits with anticipation...  And then it begins...  just like his forefathers, the groom looks up at his bride-to-be and belts one out!  Our groom, Michael, chose to sing a very apropos song to his NJ born fiance - Jersey Girl by Bruce Springsteen.  It was sentimental and sweet, and we are thrilled to have been able to attend. 

Photos by Kate Triano.
Luckily, those South Philly guys come pre-wired with the confidence, guts, and charm to keep the tradition alive in this day and age of social media.  Yes, the video was up on youtube that night, and no, we're not going to share the link.