Even in a beautiful and important occasion such as a wedding, simplicity and culture still hold more importance than expensive jewelry and such. Having a traditional wedding is one of the best ways to show your pride for your country’s or religion’s customs. The kittel is one of those many pieces of wedding attire that screams tradition and custom.
The kittel, also known as sargenes, is a white robe that is made out of linen and is worn on special occasions by Jewish men. This simple garment is worn over clothes and can be made with or without lace. It is measured at the shoulders, hips, and length and the sizes vary from medium, large, and extra large. The most common measurement for the shoulders is 21 inches for medium, 22 inches for large and 23 inches for extra large. For the hips, the measurements are 52 inches, 54 inches, and 56 inches from medium to extra large. For the length of the garment, 46 inches is appropriate for medium size while 47 ½ and 48 ½ inches are for large and extra large respectively. The kittel is tied at the waist giving the garment a more distinct look.
The kittel shouldn’t be decorated with anything that is gold because gold represents the sin of the calf made out of gold, the source of their persecution. Silver, on the other hand, can be used for decoration because it is close to white, which symbolizes mercy and purity. There are 32 fringes on a kittel because the number 32 spells out the word “heart” when written in Hebrew.
The Wedding Kittel
The kittel represents and signifies holiness, purity, humility, new beginnings and is first worn by Jewish men on their wedding day by tradition. The bride and groom traditionally wear white because it represents the bride’s purity and the groom’s kittel is equal to it and both garments signify the new beginning in the life of marriage.
In some communities, it is a custom for the bride to present her groom with a kittel as a pre-wedding gift. There are some grooms who opt for wearing their kittel over their tuxedos or suits and take them off after the ceremony or before the traditional breaking of the glass. Of course, a groom can also wear the kittel for the duration of the entire occasion because it is really up to him.
Historical and Cultural Significance of the Kittel
Jewish men first wear the kittel on the day of their wedding and continue wearing it for special occasions such as Rosh Hashanah, Passover (see Passover Party Ideas) and Yom Kippur. The wearing of this traditional garment will follow them until the day of their death when the kittel is used as a burial shroud; it signifies equality for all mankind in death. The wearing of the kittel on the High Holidays is connected to it being used as a burial shroud and the verse of Isaiah, which is “our sins shall be made as white as snow.”
The simplicity of this traditional garment, beautiful as well, only holds second place to the custom and culture that it represents. For more information regarding this article, read The Guide To Jewish Weddings.
Here are highlights from a jewish wedding with men wearing kittel.