Why is it Called a Honeymoon?

By Jim CampbellJim CampbellJim CampbellJim is the owner of Honeymoons.com. A lifelong traveler, Jim's wanderlust has led him to spend months living on the Mayan Rivera, instruct SCUBA diving in Croatia, sail from San Diego to Hawaii, and cruise the Caribbean on a catamaran. Jim launched his honeymoon business while planning his own honeymoon in 2019. Since then, he has helped thousands of honeymooners plan their trips through his honeymoon travel agency.Meet Our Team | Updated on February 12, 2024 | Posted In: About Honeymoons

If you’ve just finished planning a wedding with your partner, there’s a good chance that you’re counting down the days until your relaxing honeymoon. While most people think of it as a week-long trip taken by a newly married couple to a warm, tropical vacation, there’s a lot more hiding behind the term. 

When searching for the history behind the idea of a honeymoon, there are two main stories that pop up, one a little gloomier than the other. Like a lot of old wedding traditions (like engagement rings) and despite its adorable name, the honeymoon may also have dark roots. 

Let’s start with the more romantic of the two stories. 

Many lovers believe that “honeymoon” originates from the old English word “hony moone” with “hony” meaning honey, symbolizing the sweetness of marriage. In Europe, it’s also customary to give newlyweds a month-long supply of alcohol that they can celebrate with for the first month of marriage. The alcohol is called mead, which is made from a mixture of water and fermented honey. A month of wine certainly sounds wonderful to us!

People believed that “moone” referred to one’s monthly cycle. When putting both words together, “hony moone” signified the sweet, love-filled period that follows after a marriage. It can also be used to describe the passionate and rosy phase in any type of relationship. 

Alternatively, some believe that the “moon” in “honeymoon” alludes to love waxing and waning over the period of a month, just like the moon does.

But now for the darker history behind honeymoons…

Several centuries ago, honeymooning wasn’t just about drinking mead. For some cultures, a groom would kidnap his bride for months until her family and friends stopped inquiring about her whereabouts. If the bride’s family kept looking for her, the groom would try to impregnate the bride because once she became pregnant, it was too late for the marriage to be reversed. Romantic, right?

This gloomy version of a honeymoon typically occurred if the bride’s family didn’t approve of the groom. Finances were also a factor—if the groom was too poor to pay the bride’s family a dowry, he would also resort to taking her on a “honeymoon”. This was believed to happen in areas like Africa, South America, China, South Asia, East Asia, and gypsy communities all over the world.

Years ago, marriages weren’t so much about love like they are today. They were often about inheritance and class, especially if the bride came from an underprivileged family. Because people get married these days for love, it’s no surprise that honeymoons were transformed into a wildly romantic tradition. And we couldn’t be happier!

Since no kidnapping or dowries are involved in most of the weddings today, couples can feel free to honeymoon in whichever way brings them happiness or joy. Some newly weds decide to jet off on a month-long European getaway while others visit the local spa or go camping. There really are no rules!

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