A traditional chuppah, especially within Orthodox Judaism, recommends that there be open sky exactly above the chuppah. If the wedding ceremony is held indoors in a hall, sometimes a special opening is built to be opened during the ceremony. ManyHasidim prefer to conduct the entire ceremony outdoors.


The word chuppah originally appears in the Hebrew Bible (Joel 2:16; Psalms 19:6). The chuppah represents a Jewish home symbolized by the cloth canopy and the four poles. Just as a chuppah is open on all four sides, so was the tent of Abraham open for hospitality. Thus, the chuppah represents hospitality to one’s guests. This “home” is also initially devoid of furniture as a reminder that the basis of a Jewish home is the people within it, not the possessions.

Historically, in Talmudic times, Jewish weddings in the past comprised two separate parts. The first of which was the betrothal ceremony. The second part was the actual wedding ceremony. These two ceremonies usually took place about a year apart. The bride lived with her parents until the actual marriage ceremony, which would take place in a room or tent that the groom had set up for her. Later in history, the two ceremonies were combined and the marriage ceremony started to be performed publicly. At this new ceremony, the chuppah, or the portable marriage canopy, was included as a symbol of the chamber within which marriages originally took place.


In a spiritual sense, the covering of the chuppah represents the presence of God over the covenant of marriage. As a man’s kipa (skull cap) served as a reminder of the Creator above all, (also a symbol of separation from G-d), so the chuppah was erected to signify that the ceremony and institution of marriage has divine origins.

Before going under the chuppah the groom covers the bride’s face with a veil. The origin of this tradition is in the dispute of what exactly is the chuppah. There are opinions that the chuppah means covering the bride’s face, and that by this covering the couple is getting married. This opinion is based on the Verse: “[T]hen she took her veil and covered herself.” (Genesis, 24, 65) in which Rebekah meets Isaac. Some are strict to make sure that the witnesses will see the covering, for them to actually be considered as witnessing the marriage.

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