Saturday, July 14, 2012

Honeymoon - Etymology

There are several competing theories concerning the etymology of the word, Honeymoon. One associates it with the drinking of mead for a month.

Source: "A philosophical and statistical history of the inventions and customs of ancient and modern nations in the manufacture and use of inebriating liquors," Samuel Morewood, 1838, p. 466

For some, mead is a drink they last recall hearing about when they read Beowulf in their English Lit class. I've seen mead shelved with beer in some liquor shops, but it is closer to wine, and is often called "honey wine" to avoid confused looks from potential customers. There is definitely a lot of sweet mead, but like wine made from grapes, a dry mead can be produced as well. 

Jenifer and I received a gift of three bottles of mead on our wedding day from some good friends who were aware of this custom. We made those three bottles last for an entire lunar month (28 days), sharing a small amount each evening.  The custom held some extra meaning since both of us have a great grandfather who was a beekeeper.

The OED dates the word, 'honeymoon,' back to the 16th century, simply indicating the period of sweetness which follows marriage, but then wanes.

Sources seem to indicate that the concept of a trip taken after the wedding is relatively modern, dating back to "Bridal Tours" in 19th century Britain where couples (sometimes accompanied by friends or relatives) would visit those who had been unable to attend the wedding.

Photo Credit: Jenifer Newmark - June 2012
We spent three wonderful days and nights together in Prague. (See: Of Prague and Clocks, and Terezin - Not Your Usual Honeymoon Destination). However, our "bridal tour" had just begun.

For the next leg, we flew to Budapest, Hungary - where we met up with several family members. We only spent one night in Budapest before embarking on a Family History tour of Transylvania.  But that's a different post.

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