Ah, wedding season. The middle of the year is a popular time to tie the knot, but after it’s all over, the newly married couple needs a little time to relax. Enter the honeymoon.
These days honeymoon can be a noun that describes the post-wedding vacation or an adjective used to describe the place where the newlyweds sleep during their vacation, as in the honeymoon suite.
But, what does honeymoon really mean?
The word derives from the Old English hony moone. Hony refers to the new marriage’s sweetness, as well as a reference to the European custom of giving newlyweds enough mead, “an alcoholic liquor made by fermenting honey and water,” to last a month. That would keep many a couple happy.Moon refers to how long that sweetness might probably last, or from the changing aspect of the moon—from full to waning. In French, the equivalent word is lune de miel. The German version is flitterwhochen, from flitter, which means “tinsel.” Not exactly the type of positive thinking a couples counselor would recommend, is it?
Of course, it’s now customary to toast the new couple. But does toast, as in cooked bread, have anything to do with clinking glasses together? It actually does. Originally, a toast was raised to the health of a beautiful or popular woman. The notion was that her name would figuratively flavor or strengthen the drink. And drinks, way back, were actually flavored with spiced toast. As for the ceremonious clinking of glasses, the custom is said to have evolved from fears of poisoning. The idea was that the liquid would spill from glass to glass. It is also believed that the roots of the custom are related to the offering of sacrificial libations to the gods.
These days it’s not just all for the toast—a little liquid helps wash down all that delicious wedding cake, a term that dates back to 1648. Fun fact: wedding cake is also used to describe a style of architecture in which buildings have distinct tiers.
For more wedding words, check out the meaning behind bridaller, agamy, and more to cure all of your wedding fever.