Posted by P. Bingham on September 10, 1998 at 13:37:50:
In response to Celibates, written by Lesley on September 08, 1998 at 00:21:18
] The only thing I can remember about medieval marriage customs relates to the Honeymoon, wheich came from honey mead, a kind of fermented drink that the newleyweds would take in order to get over the nervousness of the wedding night.]
The word, honeymoon, has been noted to be derived from many different sources but the one most likely to be true is too from Medieval times (and before), as are most of the parts of the wedding process. It revolves around wife stealing, which was the accepted way of gaining a wife in the 'primitive' world. After the church outlawed this wife stealing, it continued to be practised in a fun-natured way (though for real too, of course) . Here is an example of a 'horse-wedding' in Wales in 1813:
'The bride mounted behind her nearest kinsman, is carried off...pursued by the bridegroom and his friends with loud shouts. it is not uncommon...to see two or three hundred sturdy Cambro-Britons riding at full-speed, crossing and jostling to the no small amusement of the spectators.'
Here is another:
'Ill may it befall the travellor who has had the misfortune of meeting a Welsh wedding on the road. he would be inclined to suppose that he has fallen in with a company of lunatics escaped from their confinement.'
In the late 19c the Welsh custom of wife-stealing was still in full swing in Cardiganshire. The bride groom's party rode to the bride's house to be confronted by locked doors and spirited resistance from her friends. Scuffling and horseplay were followed by the 'pwnco', question and answer in verse, a witty contest between the parties perhaps lasting several hours:
'Bridegroom's party (outside):
We are coming on an errand
From a warm-hearted young man
To fetch your bright-eyed Annie
To be his loving partner.
Bride's party (inside the house):
If you intend proposing marriage
You will get the answer from Annie
That there is certainly great trouble
In having a husband and a family.
The Final Resistance:
It is better you should take her
Than disapoint the lover's heart.
But by this time the bride had already hidden, her disguised herself in man's clothing, or as an old crone nursing a baby boy (to ensure sons for the marriage). Eventually she was carried off by the assault party, with her father, brothers and supporters in hot pursuit on horseback -every nag in the parish was pressed into the service for the bride-stealing. By careful design the bride's 'rescue' came just too late, and the party finally got to church.
This practise was done in the States too and Mrs. Job March was the last bride to be stolen in Hadley, Massachusets in 1783.
And the significance to honeymoon and other wedding practices?
Wife-stealing influenced wedding practices in gift giving. The gift that the bride groom gives his best man is that of the reward given for his aid in capturing her (the bride-fight) and the gifts given to the bride'smaids are the bribes they received to persuade them to release the bride. The mother-in-law's arguing reputation is too due to bride-stealing, where she must be antipathatic to the new son-in-law who 'stole' her daughter. The honeymoon, or rather the 'moon' can be derived from, after the deceits and manoeuvers of capture, it was politic for the young couple to hide for a 'moon' while parental tempers cooled. The honeymoon was not a pleasure trip but a safety measure recalling the era when bride's really were stolen. The local was a secret!
This information was taken from Wedding Customs and Folklore by Margaret Baker.
- Mead Lesley 01:31:13 9/11/98 (1)
- She liked Mead Caroline 08:51:17 9/11/98 (0)
- LOL! Caroline 14:07:43 9/10/98 (6)
- The finest example of this, ever....... Caroline 14:14:03 9/10/98 (5)
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