The Shivaree

| 12/16/2009 2:32:28 PM

Sam Moore  
Sam Moore  

A couple of years ago, in the pages of Farm Collector, Delbert Trew recalled his and his bride’s Texas shivaree.

The way he described it, the event was brutal and sadistic and certainly not much fun for the young newlyweds. We had ’em in western Pennsylvania too, but I think they were (in most cases) a little more fun.

According to Webster’s, the word shivaree is derived from a Latin word meaning “headache,” and I can see why something like what Mr. and Mrs. Trew went through would give one a headache. The definition describes the event as a “noisy demonstration or celebration; especially, a mock serenade with kettles, horns, etc., to a couple on their wedding night.”

I recently found, in my late cousin Peg Townsend’s memoirs, a description of my own parents’ shivaree, a much tamer affair than Delbert Trew’s I might add.

Peg writes: “Soon after the wedding, probably within a week of it, the neighbors planned a serenade for Sam and Blanche; and of course it was to be a complete surprise. Mig and Chuck (Dad’s sister and brother-in-law – Peg’s parents) had invited them to supper. (Peg was only 4 years old at the time, but she apparently remembered something of the event, and I’m sure her mother filled in the details.)

“Suddenly, on the porch we heard a great stamping of feet, the loud booming of sticks beating kettles and pans, and the ringing and clanging of sleigh bells and school bells.