The Honeymoon

Mead Day

Aug 7

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"I am drunk with the honey wine
Of the moon-unfolded eglantine,
Which fairies catch in hyacinth bowls.
The bats, the dormice, and the moles
Sleep in the walls or under the sward
Of the desolate castle yard;
And when ’tis spilt on the summer earth
Or its fumes arise among the dew,
Their jocund dreams are full of mirth,
They gibber their joy in sleep; for few
Of the fairies bear those bowls so new!"

~ Wine of the Fairies, Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

A fanciful 19th-century theory claimed that the word "honeymoon" alluded to "the custom of the higher order of the Teutones ... to drink Mead, or Metheglin, a beverage made with honey, for thirty days after every wedding", but this theory is now rejected. It is easy to imagine an association for as the word "honeymoon" for the period immediately following marriage was said to be "characterized by love and happiness", in literature since 1546. Using the sweetness of honey and its application to fermented beverages through the use of wild yeasts dates back to 3000 BC! A mead that contains fruit (such as raspberry, blackberry or strawberry) is called a melomel while a mead that is fermented with grape juice is called a pyment! Mulled meads are popular drinks at Christmas time, where mead is flavored with spices (and sometimes various fruits) and warmed, traditionally by having a hot poker plunged into it! Meads can also be distilled to a brandy or liqueur strength. A version called "honey jack" can be made by partly freezing a quantity of mead and straining the ice out of the liquid. 🐝 🍺 🍯

The Honeymoon

Mead Day celebrated today is for the ancient fermented honey drink, still enjoyed and brewed today with many traditional regional variations in different countries and as a revived specialty beverage of newer meaderies!  Believed to be the first alcoholic beverage, mead was once referred to as “the nectar of the Gods.”  The Norse legends tell of the Mead of Poetry a mythical beverage that imbued the drinker with the wisdom of a scholar, yielding the ability to recite any poem and answer any question!

 

The etymology of the word honeymoon comes from the Old English “hony moone.” Hony, a reference to honey, refers to the “indefinite period of tenderness and pleasure experienced by a newly wed couple," and how sweet the new marriage is. Moone, meanwhile, refers to the fleeting amount of time that sweetness would last. While honeymoon has a positive connotation today, it was first used as a term to warn newlyweds about waning love.


The first recorded description of the word comes from 1542, when Samuel Johnson wrote: “The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure; originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full that it begins to wane…”


See below for a video of the dance performed by pupils of Meiklemill Primary School, Ellon in September 2013. 


And for some alternative versions as to the origin of the term "honeymoon" click the painting of "The Waning Honeymoon" by G. H.  Boughton (1878).

The Honeymoon
The Honeymoon

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