Tuesday, March 20, 2012

HONEYMOON : History and Etymology


One early reference to a honeymoon is in Deuteronomy .“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 his family, to bring joy to the wife he has married.
Originally "honeymoon" simply described the period just after the wedding when things are at their sweetest; it is assumed to wane in a month. The earliest term for this in English was hony moone, which was recorded as early as 1546.
In Western culture, the custom of a newlywed couple going on a holiday together originated in early 19th century Great Britain, a concept borrowed from the Indian elite, in the Indian Subcontinent. Upper-class couples would take a "bridal tour", sometimes accompanied by friends or family, to visit relatives who had not been able to attend the wedding. The practice soon spread to the European continent and was known as voyage à la façon anglaise (English-style voyage) in France from the 1820s on.
Honeymoons in the modern sense (i.e. a pure holiday voyage undertaken by the married couple) became widespread during the Belle Époque, as one of the first instances of modern mass tourism. This came about in spite of initial disapproval by contemporary medical opinion (which worried about women's frail health) and by savoir vivre guidebooks (which deplored the public attention drawn to what was assumed to be the wife's sexual initiation). The most popular honeymoon destinations at the time were the French Riviera and Italy, particularly its seaside resorts and romantic cities such as RomeVerona or Venice. Typically honeymoons would start on the night they were married, with the couple leaving midway through the reception to catch a late train or ship. However, in the 21st century, many couples will not leave until 1–3 days after the ceremony and reception in order to tie up loose ends with the reception venue and/or simply enjoy the reception to its fullest and have a relaxing night afterwards to recover, before undertaking a long journey.

The Oxford English Dictionary offers no etymology, but gives examples dating back to the 16th century. The Merriam-Webster dictionary reports the etymology as from "the idea that the first month of marriage is the sweetest" (1546).
A honeymoon can also be the first moments a newly-wed couple spend together, or the first holiday they spend together to celebrate their marriage.
"The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure" (Samuel Johnson); originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing the mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full than it begins to wane; now, usually, the holiday spent together by a newly-married couple, before settling down at home.

One of the more recent citations in the Oxford English Dictionary indicates that, while today honeymoon has a positive meaning, the word was originally a reference to the inevitable waning of love like a phase of the moon. This, the first known literary reference to the honeymoon, was penned in 1552, in Richard Huloet's Abecedarium Anglico Latinum. Huloet writes:
Hony mone, a term proverbially applied to such as be newly married, which will not fall out at the first, but th'one loveth the other at the beginning exceedingly, the likelihood of their exceadinge love appearing to aswage, ye which time the vulgar people call the hony mone.
—Abcedarium Anglico-Latinum pro Tyrunculis, 1552
In many parts of Europe it was traditional to supply a newly married couple with enough mead for a month, ensuring happiness and fertility. From this practice we get honeymoon or, as the French say,lune de miel [lit. "moon of honey"] Given that this etymology does not appear in the usual scholarly works on etymology, this claim is usually dismissed as a false etymology.
There are many calques of the word honeymoon from English into other languages. The French form translates as "moon of honey" (lune de miel), as do the Spanish (luna de miel), Portuguese (lua de mel) and Italian (luna di miele) equivalents. The Welsh word for honeymoon is mis mêl, which translates as "honey month", and similarly the Polish (miesiąc miodowy), Russian (Медовый месяц),Arabic (شهر العسل shahr el 'assal), Greek (μήνας του μέλιτος) and Hebrew (ירח דבש yerach d'vash) versions. (Interestingly, Yerach is used for month, rather than the more common ChodeshYerach is related to the word Yare'ach for moon and the two words are spelled alike: ירח.) The Persian word is ماه عسل mah e asal which has both the translations "honey moon" and "honey month" (mah in Persian meaning both moon and month). The same applies to the word ay in the Turkish equivalent, balayı. In Hungarian language it is called "honey weeks" (mézeshetek). Likewise, the Tamil word for honeymoon is "Then Nilavu" meaning Then-honey and nilavu-moon
Source : wikipedia.

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