Monday, August 12, 2019

The Shivaree

14th century Charivari
The wedding was all that Brenda hoped for and that her new husband Hal was relieved was over. All the planning that Brenda had spent doing was over in ten minutes. Walking down the wooden plank aisle to the pulpit, being surrounded by his and her families, was painless but embarrassing.

And then there was the reception at Aunt Betty's house where the church ladies brought the best potluck any country community could have produced.

But Hal? Forget the wedding cake made by his mother. Forget the beef pot roast Aunt Betty made. Get me outta here. 

When nightfall neared, Hal experienced an eagerness for this night with his new bride. For two months, Hal had dreamed of this night, when clothes came off, when he leaped into the bed with voluptuous Brenda. Oh boy Oh boy Oh boy.

Lights flickered off and darkness fell. Step one, step two, and then--oh boy--step three.

Step three was about to start until outside every window, the worst racket exploded.

Entire farming community was there, beating pots and pans with utensils. Every child raced around the house yelling and screaming as only children can do. It was a hell of a racket that could not ignore.

Barely pulling on clothes before the invasion, Brenda was bright red and Hal was as furious as any new groom could be when step three was about to commence. Then all his farmer friends and wives burst through the kitchen door, carrying leftovers from the reception. 

When the newly wedded couple emerged from their rumpled bed, cheers went up. Men clapped Hal on the back saying vulgar obscenities. The women embraced Brenda and giggled, whispering unknown words.

When the laughing farming community left after a few hours, newlyweds dropped into their wedding bed. Looking fondly at each other, both agreed that tomorrow morning would be better for step three.


*****

When I was an innocent ten year old, I was part of the screaming children group while my parents carried pots and pans. 

Here is a telling from a man earlier in the 1900s telling how the old shivarees were done:


Artist Larin Thompson depicts a shivaree. From Tennessee Ernie Ford's 'This is My Story, This is My Song.'
Time for a shivaree



From early 1900s, one Kansan recalls when he married, he was "shivareed good":
"Those shivaree clowns and their wives busted right into our house and dragged us out by force. I fought, but it was no use.
They set my young bride in a wheelbarrow that hadn't been greased for years. And they made me push her in the wheelbarrow down our main street to a beer palace. It seemed like miles.
They forced me, and I mean forced, to treat all that crowd to beer and salami and rye bread and to cigars and candy and so on, in fact to about everything eatable and drinkable in the joint.
Then they put my bride back in the wheelbarrow and made me push her home again..." 

Oh, those good old days. 


Ever been part of a shivaree?  Give details.


46 comments:

  1. Heard of it, never actually participated or saw it done. It was not the custom here.

    It sounds like a great reason to get out of town for the honeymoon immediately!

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  2. never heard of this tradition but it's pretty funny.

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    1. I think it became funny as time went on, but originally it sounded pretty brutal.

      In Medieval times, esp. in nobility, the consummation had to be witnessed by a priest and/or other people.

      For commoners, the shivaree was more of a party.

      Who knew?

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  3. Oh yeah. This tradition must be pretty much a rural mountain thing. Lots of info on somethings done is on Wiki. Be glad we are no longer doing it.

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  4. Never heard of this tradition, but to me it is just cruel on the bride and groom. Now I know why honeymooners leave for parts unknown soon after the reception starts to wane.

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    1. The tradition would have to fade away with changes in the rural culture.

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  5. One of my dearest friends married a gorgeous young man. Knowing our crowd they refused to divulge where they would be staying on their wedding night. Lucky for us. The groom's father tattled. We went across the bridge into Canada and straight to the hotel. We asked which room the newlyweds were in. Hotel policy did not allow them to tell us. However we could use a house phone conveniently located in the lobby . Hotel staff would connect us to the room. The bride's sister placed the call. When the bride answered she knew were not standing in the lobby. That is until her sister described the lounge adjacent to the lobby. The couple dressed and came to the lobby to meet us. The groom was extremely gracious as we all went to a small outdoor place for drinks. The bride not so much. After a couple of quick drinks we let them go back to their honeymoon and we went home.

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    1. That was the nicest shivaree I have ever heard of.

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  6. Never been a apart of a Chivaree but have heard of the practice. since we were married by a justice of the Peace and had a one night honey moon, I probably would not have 'enjoyed it.' LOL
    But I am sure it could be a real party time.
    I am not sure why it wasn't a practice in my area.
    Sherry & jack

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    1. The Carolinas would have that as part of their culture. You lucked out there, Jack.

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  7. I have heard of it/read about it and am very glad that it is a tradition which has been allowed to fade away.

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  8. The first I heard of it was when I got married. I was teaching in Steelville, MO. I'd just started there in August, and was getting married the Friday after Thanksgiving. My principal announced, in the teacher workroom the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, that he and the faculty were going to show up for a Chivaree!

    I had to look up what it was. Since I barely knew them, and lived an hour away, I didn't really believe they were coming. Well, there was a LITTLE doubt. They did not show up.

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  9. I had never heard of this tradition before. Wild stuff. I wonder how it started.

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    1. The custom goes back to the 1400s. Not much to do at night I guess.

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  10. I would bet the groom had been involved in one or two of those shivarees in the past Karma often comes back to bite us.

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  11. I have never been part of a Shivaree, only read about one in an old school novel from grade six or seven. In that one, the "tin kittling" went on until the newlyweds opened the door and brought out food and mugs of tea.

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    1. Well, that was something else. Whew. Tea and food was a whole lot easier.

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  12. Ooops, that's "kettling" not kittling

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    1. I wonder where the term kettling came about?

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  13. Oops, typing error! How amazing that you were a part of this old tradition and remember, though such an event would be hard to forget. Here, in England on the Welsh Border, the traditions linger on, such as Morris Dancing, as a dimly remembered version of what took place in the Middle Ages, but good to carry on the heritage nevertheless 🌹

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    1. Traditions or at least a version of them are great to carry on. Just saw some Morris Dancing at an English fair.

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  14. I've heard of them but have never been shivareed (is that a word?) or taken part in one. And we thought cans tied to the bumper was a pain.

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  15. Replies
    1. It is something the average people would not have heard of. But then blogs are never average.

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  16. I've never heard of this custom. Personally, I'd be so cross. Rude, rude, rude!

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  17. I did indeed participate in a shivaree...lots of fun...at least for those intruding.

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  18. I recall hearing about it, but never witnessed it happen.

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  19. Dear Susan, I've heard of it and read the book in novels, but never been part of one! Peace.

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  20. Having the image in your mind is good enough I think.

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  21. Was it Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey?

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  22. A religious Jewish custom takes place between the wedding ceremony and the reception where the bride and groom go to their hotel room with a religious family member or friend guards the door, so the couple may consummate the wedding. We observed the tradition at our wedding, but behind closed doors my husband opened a bottle of champagne, while our dear family friend bustled my dress for the reception. The cork flew into my husband’s eye, and one of the sleeves on my off the shoulder
    wedding dress was slightly torn from covering up during the ceremony. Later when we walked into the reception, it looked like I had been busy fighting my crazed husband off. It wasn’t quite a shiveree, but it sure created a stir! Fun story, Susan!

    Julie

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  23. oh dear you painting the night awesomely :)

    i felt for bride and groom lol too funny

    here in my part of land there funny and teasing traditions either but they all would take place before wedding night

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  24. I hadn't heard of this tradition before.

    All the best Jan

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!