Wedding Traditions: The Honeymoon

After the ceremony and wedding reception, most newlywed couples will leave on their honeymoon.  The honeymoon is likely to be a well planned, romantic destination where the two of you escape from the hustle and bustle of the wedding planning process.  You plan to have time to reflect on your life together, rest, enjoy each other and create lifelong memories.

This event describes the current meaning of the word “honeymoon”.  But where did the word “honeymoon” come from?  The word honeymoon has several possible origins.

The Babylonians are thought to have practiced a month of drinking a honey based drink for a month after the wedding. It was thought that this drink was both an aphrodisiac as well as an aid for fertility!  The month was a period that defined the woman’s cycle, ensuring at least one “fertile” time period.

Of interest, the Bible also refers to a special time together for newly weds; one that lasted much longer than a month!  Deuteronomy 24:5 states: “When a man is newly wed, he need not go out on a military expedition, nor shall any public duty be imposed on him.  He shall be exempt for one year for the sake of her family, to bring joy to the wife he has married.”

5th century references in the time of Atilla the Hun talk of a honey based “mead”, a beer-like drink being used after a wedding.  In addition, the kidnapping of a bride was practiced then.  It may be that the honeymoon was a time of hiding from the family of the bride! It is interesting that most couples still attempt to keep their honeymoon destination a secret!

Writings in the 16th century use the actual word “honeymoon”.  Many historians of that time period believe the term is derived from the “moon” part of the word as a full moon was considered a lucky time of the month to marry.  The honey is thought to again to refer to the tradition in some countries in Europe where a wine made from honey was customarily drunk daily during the first month of marriage

Another possible origin for this term is a Nordic word “hjunottsmanathr” which literally means “in hiding” again referring to the abduction of a bride!

Other historical references suggest that the honeymoon is the sweetest part of marriage and that the affection seen then wanes later just as the moon wanes over time.

Whatever the origin, the term honeymoon now refers to a time when a new husband and wife take time to truly enjoy each other, alone, relaxed and away from the cares of the world that often overtake a marriage.  It is the hope of the staff of Woodrow Hall that your honeymoon be the beginning of a long and sweet marriage!

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