Literally, “canopy” or “covering” under which a Jewish couple stands during their wedding ceremony. It consists of a cloth or sheet, sometimes a tallit, stretched or supported over four poles, or sometimes manually held up by attendants to the ceremony. A chuppah symbolizes the home that the couple will build together.

In a more general sense, chuppah refers to the method by which nesuin, the second stage of a Jewish marriage, is accomplished. According to some opinions, it is accomplished by the couple standing under the canopy.

In Talmudic times, the room where the marriage was consummated was called the chuppah.

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” initially lacks furniture as a reminder that the basis of a Jewish home is the people within it, not the possessions. In a spiritual sense, the covering of the chuppah represents the presence of God over the covenant of marriage. As the kippah served as a reminder of the Creator above all, (also a symbol of separation from God), so the chuppah was erected to signify that the ceremony and institution of marriage has divine origins

(Historical context care of Wikipedia. Images from Wedding Whimsy, Google, and — ooh, sparkly! — 100 Layer Cake)

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