At dawn, the rooster heralds the new day’s sun with his morning ku-ka-ri-ku!, the sound Russians identify as a rooster’s crow. Embroidered on the ritual towels of Vologda and other regions, roosters were the harbingers of new life for newlyweds. The Russian marriage ritual was rich with traditions that had their origins both in Orthodox Christianity and Russia’s ancient pagan past.

Images of pigeons, peacocks and other birds, depicted in pairs facing each other, were also considered auspicious and frequently featured on wedding embroidery.  After the church ceremony, the parents of the bride and groom met the young couple at the door and offered them a gift of bread and salt, displayed on a splendidly decorated towel embroidered with the bird imagery.