Q&A: Why is the time after a wedding called a honeymoon?

January 24, 2013 | By

Question by cremedelacreme04: Why is the time after a wedding called a honeymoon?

Best answer:

Answer by heterophobicgirl
The Oxford English Dictionary offers no etymology at all, but dates the word back to the 16th century:

"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 oldest citations in the Oxford English Dictionary indicates that, while today honeymoon has a positive meaning, the word was actually a sardonic reference to the inevitable waning of love like a phase of the moon. This, the first literary reference to the honeymoon was penned in 1552, in Richard Huloet's Abecedarium Anglico Latinum. Huleot writes:

Hony mone, a terme proverbially applied to such as be newe maried, whiche wyll not fall out at the fyrste, but thone loveth the other at the beginnynge excedyngly, the likelyhode of theyr exceadynge love appearing to aswage, ye which time the vulgar people cal the hony mone.

Or, in modern English:

Honeymoon, a term proverbially applied to the newly-married, who will not fall out (quarrel) at first, but they love the other at the beginning exceedingly, the likelihood of their exceeding love appearing to assuage [any quarrels]; this time is commonly called the honeymoon.

It has also been said that the origins of this word date back to the times of Babylon. In order to increase the virility and fertility of the newlyweds, the father of the bride would provide his son in law with all the mead (a honey-based drink) he could drink during the first month of the marriage (and therefore "moon"). Given that the English word is only four hundred years old, direct attribution to Babylon is questionable (though often repeated). The custom of drinking mead after a wedding for a month was also a medieval custom, however, and in practice at the time the word first appeared. [1]

Another two possible explanations of the word honeymoon are to do with the date that weddings traditionally took place. Weddings once commonly took place upon the Summer solstice both for religious reasons earlier on and also for the practical reason that it was the time between the main planting and harvesting of crops. As it was at this time of year that honey was first harvested it is possible that this is the source. Another alternative is that "Honey Moon" is a name given to the moon when its path is close to the southern horizon. Its light shines though the haze and dust of our atmosphere giving its light a honey color for the whole month.

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Comments (3)

  1. jhbatchelor

    Thats supposed to be the first time to see your honeys

  2. yummy

    Well you and your honey do it all over and you take eachother to new sexual heights i.e. the moon…. Honey I’m takin’ you to the moon tonight!!!!

  3. crabsodyblues1962

    so your honey can moon you. :~)