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Why is the wedding ceremony held under a chupa?

The origin of the chupa has been explained in a variety of ways.  Some believe it is a vestige of the ancient tent-life of Israel. It has been pointed out that even to this day Bedouin tribes construct a special tent for the bride and groom.

Some scholars regard the chupa as symbolic of the laurel wreath worn by the bride and groom during the marriage ceremony in Talmudic times.  The original meaning of the word chupa, is "to cover with garlands."

Other authorities believe the chupa is a reminder of the room in the groom's house to which the bride was brought at the end of the betrothal (engagement) period and where the couple cohabitated, thus consummating the marriage.  This aspect of the ceremony, called yichud, was considered to be of the essence.

During the Middle Ages, when marriages were performed in the synagogue, it became customary to erect the type of chupa still in use today.

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