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The History Behind The Honeymoon Tradition: 5 Historical Facts You Probably Did Not Know

It is a period of time that newlyweds spend in seclusion. The holiday is widely known and observed in most parts of the world. Basically, the romantic holiday which is commonly spent in cozy environments is meant to strengthen the bond between the couple. It could also be a time of rest after the hectic ordeal of planning the wedding.

More than the practice of honeymoon vacation, many married and unmarried people have no idea where the honeymoon tradition came from.

That’s where we come in to take you back to the history of the lovey-dovey holiday.

1. History Behind The Term “Honeymoon”

The Honeymoon was initially termed “Hony Moone”. It has been in practice for as far back as 1546. From the North Germanic origin, it was termed “Hjunottsmanathr”. The Norse word is the English equivalent of hiding.

In certain ancient cultures, honeymoon referred to the time of year (Summer solstice) when bee honey was ripe and harvested from hives.

Some refer to it as the ‘honey month’ or ‘honey weeks’ depending on the time frame of the vacation.

2. Marriage By Capture

Whoever knew kidnapping was ever a nuptial process. Marriage by capture was prevalent across many cultures of the world. In Africa, for instance, it was practiced in countries like Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Africa and Kenya.

Other parts of the world that practiced marriage by capture include Central Asia, the Caucasus region, Southeast Asia(Hmong), Mexico(Tzeltal), and Europe(Romani).

This is where the groom with the help of his friends abducts “his bride” and takes her into hiding. The period of this abduction is measured by the “moon”. During this time the “couple” consume lots of mead- fermented honey mixed with water and other spices. This drink is to aid conception in the woman.

We won’t be talking about conception if the two will not be intimate. The idea is to get the bride pregnant before her kith and kin find her. At a time when the idea of being a single mom was a taboo, the family of the abducted woman will have no other option than give consent to the union when they eventually come out of hiding.


Later on, the forceful abduction was made more appealing in the sense that the groom first informs the family of the bride before covering her up in a blanket and riding off with her on a horseback. It became a romantic ritual which was considered to be the origin of the “sweeping her off her feet” expression.

Honeymoon Tradition

3. Why Honey?

The honey cocktail, mead is regarded as a love potion and an aphrodisiac. Thus considered a pre-requisite for the intercourse agenda.

As a metaphor especially for the modern times, honey represents the bliss and harmony that the couple experience during the first months of their nuptial union. Honey could also serve as a connotation for the sweetness of their romantic getaway.

4. And The Moon?

You know how time in the ancient African setting is measured by full moons and sunsets? That’s how the moon represents the time the bride waits for her relatives to come rescue her. In some cultures, the end of the search for the woman is dependent on the phases of the moon.

Secondly, the moon is related to the body cycle of the woman in relation to fertility.

5. Acquaintance Period For Arranged Marriages

Another explanation for the honeymoon tradition is that most marriages back in the day were arranged and more transactional. So the supposed “abduction time” was to enable the couple to get to know each other.

Courtesy of the Renaissance, Great Britain popularized the tour of newlyweds after their marriage. It was often called the “bridal tour”.

As the wealthy still engaged in arranged marriages, the tour served the purpose of acquainting and acclimatizing to the idea of being together. The couple could also use the travel time to visit relatives who could not make it for the wedding.

In time the honeymoon tradition of traveling to cool secluded locations after the wedding became a welcome idea that spread across the world.


Written by How Africa

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