The Honeymoon

By Andrée Kosak

As most people know, the honeymoon is a traditional vacation taken by a newlywed couple immediately after their wedding celebration. This is the period when the newlywed couple takes a break to recuperate from a fairly stressful and full weekend, share some private and intimate moments that helps establish their newly married relationship. Generally, it lasts anywhere from a week or two, however I’ve known of many couples who decide to wait for a while before going on a honeymoon for any number of reasons.

No one can say for certain what the origins of the word “honeymoon” are, though various theories exist.
Many historians agree that the “moon” part of the word refers to the “Full Moon” of the wedding. In ancient times, Teutonic (typically, Northwestern of Germanic origin) weddings were only held under full moons. Some people believe that the “honey” part of the word refers to the tradition in some European countries of a newly married couple drinking honey mead (an ancient alcoholic drink/wine made with honey) for a month; something to do with fertility. The earliest term for this in English was “hony moone,” which was recorded as early as 1546.

Some other theorists believe that the word is merely a corruption of “hymeneal,” which refers to a wedding song. Whatever the case, the event itself has been a tradition ever since ancient times, though its function has changed somewhat.

The first uses of the word did not refer to a vacation at that time. Couples were expected to remain chaste until marriage, the honeymoon was simply a time for them to get acquainted in a more physical sense. The inclusion of a vacation became part of the tradition much later, first appearing in the 1800s, and it did not become a common practice for the general public until around 1930.

In Western culture, the custom of a newlywed couple going on a vacation or holiday together originated in Great Britain among upper-class couples who would take a “bridal tour,” sometimes accompanied by friends or family, to visit relatives who had not been able to attend the wedding. Though the honeymoon is still seen as a time for the newly-married couple to be intimate without interruptions, it is now also a chance for couples to explore unique parts of the world and enjoy the outdoors.

The most popular honeymoon destinations at the time were the French Riviera and Italy, particularly its seaside resorts and romantic cities, such as Rome, Verona 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 directly following the ceremony and reception in order to tie up loose ends with the reception venue or simply enjoy the reception to its fullest and have a relaxing night afterwards to recover, before undertaking a long journey.

Today, when couples plan their honeymoon, it’s common to select their destination based on their own circumstances and desires. Some newly married couples prefer three days at a nearby beach, while others plan a trip of a lifetime that might last for a few weeks. Either way, I think it’s important for newly married couples to find some time to relax after all the planning and anxiety of pulling a wedding together. I will ask brides their honeymoon plans and am always tickled at how their eyes light up and how excited they are about this aspect of their new life together as husband and wife.