tell me more, tell me more . . .

Day 25, November daily post challenge: This is to be one of the busiest days of the season! So what am I doing here pecking this keyboard!

Surprise! Surprise! Yesterday’s post looking for recognition of the word chivaree was sure to be a bust, I thought. No one outside the south had probably ever heard of it. Naturally I was very pleasantly surprised to hear from a few people.

Catch Her-In-The-Wry had heard of it, saying it was quite common in the area of the south she lived in for awhile (she now lives in Ohio). That didn’t surprise me too much. What did is that apparently by the way she phrased her comment it may still be going on.

Gary from Holler Notes noted the chivaree is very similar to a practice mentioned in a Thomas Hardy novel, i.e., as a way to shame or demean an  unmarried couple living together without the bonds on matrimony. I remember reading similar notes in my admittedly short research.

MountainWoman Silver who grew up in Mississippi and Louisiana remembers hearing her parents speak of the practice though no one in the family that she knew of ever participated as she suspects they were too straight-laced.

Mage who writes her Postcards from out of San Diego lived for a short time in Virginia. She remembers having heard about them, and no doubt it while she was living in the south. She never heard of anything like that in SD. No surprises there.

GrannyMar in Ireland says she has never heard of it, which surprised me very much. So much of the southern speech patterns of the U.S. sound very much like the English spoken by people in parts of Ireland. And we know that the southern states of this country were settled by large numbers Irish-Scots who immigrated in the 17th and 18th centuries, so I guess I just assumed the practice very possibly originated there. I had hoped she might verify my hunch.

Then Meanderings author Colleen showed up to remind me chivaree had been worked into a storyline on the Waltons tv drama in the early 1970’s. Call me a silly sentimentalist, but I still like that show. It takes me to a simpler time in this country, not that life really was easier then but as a child I didn’t have any responsibilities and nothing was my doing. That’s why every generation suffers from nostalgia at some point in their lives I suppose.

One comment especially caught my eye, that of Rebecca’s Daughter, and it made me think that there’s a lot more exploring I’d like to do about old traditions and their meanings. She reminded me of the old tradition in Scotland and other areas of the British Isles where the reigning lord had a turn with new brides BEFORE their new husbands did. Can you even imagine such a horrid practice? But yes, I do remember reading about that somewhere, and it seems to me it was portrayed in a movie I saw once. Can’t rightly remember the title, but it was certainly set in Scotland. RD wonders if chivaree might have grown out of it.

I decided to write about the custom because, just as I wrote in the post, I wondered why there was no mention in the book which I thought would have been the correct time period for such practices. My thoughts were something on the order that “no one will read it anyway and it’ll be an easy post” which hasn’t been the case for many days of this month long ritual (daily posting).

What did not surprise me was that all the commentators mention the practice in the southern part of the U.S.The biggest surprise was that so many of the comments evoked a lot more curiosity on my end for all kinds of rituals, some still practiced–some no longer practiced or remembered, but all quaint enough to warrant more research. What I thought of and wrote as a throwaway post leaves me wanting more.

A big thank you to all who responded.



6 thoughts on “tell me more, tell me more . . .

  1. I remember the term and couldn’t quite remember it’s meaning. Interesting. I took a course in linquistics in college an foundit fascinating. Did you know that wayyy back in the mountains of Apppalichia (in Kentucky) there are still places where the people still speak a variation of Elizabethan English? Amazing, huh?

  2. I’m from Ireland like Grannymar, and the word means absolutely nothing to me too. Within the English speaking world there are so many different words with peculiar meanings….

  3. Good Morning! Enjoyed this follow-up post, and I wanted to tell you the movie was BRAVEHEART. And the chivaree story I retold about my friend occurred in UTAH! However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the genealogical line of the errant uncles wandered back to the southern states. Interesting topic!

    Have a great Thanksgiving! Renae

    • Thank you for the title of that movie, Renae. Now I won’t wake up at 3 tomorrow morning trying to think of it. I knew it the night before I wrote the post, but that’s how long my memory holds onto any one thing. I’ll be round to visit the sixth later today when all the dishes are done and we’ve completed the walk. That’s the price to be paid when you’re invited to daughter’s house–she’s a great cook but refuses to do the dishes afterwards–and believe me there’ll be plenty of dishes afterwards!!!!

  4. I hesitated to reply because what I had to say was going to be so nerdy or “scholarly,” but when you first mentioned it, I was thinking about a chapter in this poetry manual from the 16th century, and what it’s author says about how public a celebration wedding nights are. This link has the relevant passages, but it’s written in the language of the 1590s and so may be hard to read (the grammar standards we have today had not yet been standardized, nor had spelling, plus the author is very idiosyncratic in his usage). I find this description pretty amusing, if also kind of horrifying.

    • You’re right. It is an extremely difficult read. If I read it right, the couple have an audience–hopefully outside the bedchamber, not within–and there’s a special band there to make lots of noise, and nuts are served in order to block out the screaming and laughing. And there’s a nursemaid nearby. Is that interpretation anywhere near correct?

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