Archiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2003-09 > 1062889234

Subject: [Q-R] Excerpt of History
Date: Sat, 6 Sep 2003 19:00:34 EDT

........." Imported, perhaps, by French settlers, the Old World custom of
serenading newlyweds with a cacophony of horns, gunfire, caterwauling. cowbells,
and tin pan tympani grew into one of the more notorious amusements of rural
and small town life in the 19th century. These tumultuous entertainment's, know
originally as "charivari", meaning headache, and later corrupted into
shivaree, were the poor mans wedding reception. But instead of the couple throwing the
party, it was the frolickers, often a noisy mob of thirsty bachelors, who did
the deed. Usually,they had no more then mischief in mind.
By general custom a shivaree was staged on the wedding night, when
the newlyweds presumably wanted nothing more then to retreat to the privacy of
their nuptial bed. Consequently, the raucous partyers gathered right under
the bedroom window, the better to annoy. If the couple tried to ignore the
hooting and hollering, the level of the noise simply rose until even the most
tolerant was unable to bear it any longer. Eventually, the groom descended to the
yard, a jug of whiskey or hard cider in hand, to join his old friends in
celebration. His new wife, meanwhile, was expected to do her part to supply food
and drink.
If the couple was lucky, the crowd grew tired and went home before
dawn. But it was not uncommon for them to abduct the groom, toss him into an icy
stream, ride him on a rail, or detain him till daybreak, just for the fun of

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