In last week’s post I promised a look at our “CHIVAREE”, since we’re nearing our 55th wedding anniversary in a couple weeks. I wonder if the practice even exists anywhere these days. I haven’t heard of it in a very long time.
The term CHIVAREE comes from a French word, Charivari, meaning “rough music” and originating in the Middle Ages. It was a time of teasing or even taunting a newlywed couple, particularly if one party had been widowed and was remarrying too soon for propriety. Lots of loud music, banging on pots and pans, and noisy revelry was common.
The custom became so extreme that the Catholic Church ruled excommunication for following such practices. But by now it had already spread to Britain, from where it is believed it subsequently came to North America.
Also spelled “Shivaree” or “Sharivari”; to me, no matter how you spell it, this is one wedding folk custom I do not miss! I’m glad our daughters did not have to go through such “harmless fun”. Call me killjoy!
Meant to embarrass or even humiliate the newlyweds, CHIVAREE could involve simple fun, or get completely out of hand. “Okay, okay”, you say “but exactly what in the world is a CHIVAREE anyway?”
As I alluded to in a previous post, we did not experience it until the night of our wedding shower, which was actually a couple weeks after the wedding. The shower was given by family and friends of the church we attended in our small hometown.
I knew it was coming…and so did Mr E, who had prepared ahead and was in much better form than I was. In my own defense, I had grown up hearing about the more extreme cases of CHIVAREE, particularly that of my closest aunt and uncle.
Normally, there were some fairly harmless tricks played on the newlyweds, such as parading them around publicly and beating on pots and pans. The groom was expected to give out cigars or candy, but someone close to him was supposed to find his stash and abscond with it!
Then the couple would be teased and sometimes separated physically from one another while the party-goers would say they could not sleep together again until they coughed up the treats. There would be lots of noise and fun.
After we had eaten cake and opened all the gifts, our friends grabbed our arms and began to tease us and pull us out toward the street. I reacted, fearful and unsure of myself. I remember a sweet young married woman of the church whom I loved very much saying to me, “But, Carolyn, be a good sport; it’s just in fun!”
“Ohhh” I thought, “we’re not in the olden days. This is going to be okay; it’s just in fun.” Besides, Mr E was just laughing good-naturedly and going along with them. The first of many times in social situations where he has been my guide and good example.
Stories of a CHIVAREE ages ago, when my beautiful young aunt had gotten backed up in a corner by some intoxicated individuals, faded somewhat. She had pulled out what was called a straight razor to defend herself…and they relented and left her alone! She, like my father, was half Cherokee; and she was high-spirited and knew a thing or two. There would have been more than harmless teasing during that evening. But that was then…and this was now!
So I allowed them to plop me in the wheelbarrow, skirts and petticoats notwithstanding, and they made Mr E, good sport that he was, push me down Main Street. The local sheriff had been advised. He duly trailed after us with lights flashing and siren squealing. Family and friends followed afoot, marching loudly behind us right down the very middle of Main Street! It was surreal. We survived! I survived! And lived to tell the tale, as they say.
Have your family, friends or colleagues ever put you in an awkward situation you really couldn’t avoid? Have you ever felt uneasy, even somewhat threatened by social activities or events? Was there someone who spoke into your situation to help give perspective? Has anyone ever come to your rescue in an uncomfortable moment?
We are so blessed to know about the One Who has come that we might really live; without fear, without reproach. The Savior Jesus died that we could be adopted into His Father’s own household, the true family of God.
Here there is acceptance and belonging. Here there is forgiveness and joy. No tricks, no teasing or taunting, no need to feel uncomfortable or out of place. You needed worry that you know a certain protocol or belong to a clique that will help you get through the awkward times. Just amazing grace! May it be yours today, dear reader. Be abundantly blessed!