Inspirational Stories of Love, Faith & Family Set in 19th Century America

Category: Wedding

A Good Old-Fashioned Shivaree

Today I’m excited to host my friend, and fellow author, Cynthia Roemer, on Romancing History. You can learn more about Cynthia’s new release, Under Prairie Skies, below. Leave a comment below to be entered into a drawing for a FREE Kindle copy of Under Prairie Skies.


A Good Old-Fashioned Shivaree

I’m willing to bet not many of you have heard of a Shivaree. It’s an almost forgotten bit of wedding history. Nowadays, we celebrate marriages with banquets, toasts, honeymoons, and photo shoots. But there was a time, friends and neighbors gathered to give the happy couple a send-off they wouldn’t soon forget, one that included a surprise visit in the dead of night and lots of noise!

Shivarees were a rather raucous and fun-loving way of celebrating a newly married couple’s nuptials. It could take place days, weeks, or months following the actual wedding. The element of surprise was key.

Though more prevalent in the 1800’s, my parents told me stories of shivarees that took place in their growing up years extending into the mid-1900s. According to them, the Shivaree began with a late-night wake-up call of banging pans and noise-makers, include a serenade of songs such as Let Me Call You Sweetheart, and ended with the sharing of snacks and desserts, often provided by the newly married couple.

Shivarees of the nineteenth century were much bolder and at times down right ornery. I didn’t realize just how ornery until I did some research for a scene in my novel, Under Prairie Skies. Set in 1855, the scene has my main characters, Chad and Charlotte, and a host of others, traveling by the light of the moon to the unsuspecting couple’s home.

There, the bride and groom are awakened by rifle fire and banging pans. The barefoot groom is then blindfolded and spirited away in his nightshirt into the timber and left to fend for himself until daybreak. All the while, his poor, bewildered bride is wailing and calling his name. Not the best way to wish a new couple a joyous marriage! I won’t share any spoilers by telling how the scene evolves, but during it, Chad’s actions further endear him to Charlotte.

Though I’ve not participated in or even known anyone to be shivareed, my husband attended one for his cousin when he was a boy. So, when we married, my husband had me more than a little nervous we would end up with his extended family outside our bedroom window some dark night banging pans and serenading us.

My fears never came to fruition, but all that first summer, I did a lot of baking and learned to be a very light sleeper.


About the Book

~ Beyond shattered dreams lies a realm of possibilities ~

Illinois prairie ~1855

Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he’s a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths were destined to cross again.

Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery’s uncanny ability to see through Charlotte’s feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad’s unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever.

Under Prairie Skies is available at  Amazon  Barnes & Noble and  Book Bub


Meet the Author

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational author with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. Her Prairie Sky Series consists of Amazon Best-Seller Under This Same Sky, Under Prairie Skies, and Under Moonlit Skies, due to release September 10, 2019. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband of twenty-five years and two college-aged sons.

Visit Cynthia online on her website, or connect with her on  Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or sign up for her author newsletter.


Giveaway

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations to Paual Shreckhise the winner of the Kindle copy of Under Prairie Skies! Thanks to all who entered our giveaway!

To be entered into a drawing for a FREE Kindle copy of Under Prairie Skies, comment below and let us know if you’ve ever heard of a shivaree or some other unusual custom to celebrate a wedding or betrothal.

And the Bride Wore…Black?

My great-grandmother, Agnes Theresa Burger on her wedding day to John Porta, October, 22, 1907.

My great-grandmother, Agnes Theresa Burger on her wedding day to John Porta, October, 22, 1907.

Since June is a popular month for brides, I got to thinking about popular bridal fashions over the years. I remember the first time I saw this picture of my great-grandmother in this lovely dark gown. I asked mom if she was in mourning. I thought it odd she would have her picture taken if she was. I was shocked when mom replied that it was her wedding photo.

Intrigued, I researched the black wedding dress (and in those days it meant a trip to a library not surfing the web, LOL!)

But it actually makes sense. Throughout history, brides have dressed in a manner befitting their social status.  Weddings were usually more about political alliances and transfers of wealth than they were about romance, and so the wedding dress was just another excuse to show the wealth of the bride’s family. Brides in some parts of Renaissance Italy wore their dowry sewn onto their dress as jewels. Fabrics were also an important means to display wealth, and the more elaborate the weave of the material and the rarer the color, the better the demonstration of wealth.  Before the invention of effective bleaching techniques, white was a valued color: it was both difficult to achieve, and hard to maintain.

Blackweddingdress2You may be surprised to learn that it was common for brides from poorer families to wear everyday colors such as blue, green, brown, burgundy and, yes, even black, rather than white and ivory. Black was especially popular among brides with Scandinavian ancestry.

Prudent brides planned ahead – a wedding gown could be worn for many occasions, not just on their “special day.” The wedding gown was a lady’s “best dress” after the ceremony and it was much more reasonable to have a darker colored dress than a white or ivory dress. Light fabrics, were not practical for women from lower class families who could not afford to purchase garments that could soil too easily. Can you imagine the time and effort involved in keeping the hemline of a white gown clean? Laundering was a big consideration, unless, of course, the lady was from a prominent family who had servants available to handle the laundry.

So when did the white wedding dress come into fashion?

Queen Victoria on her wedding day, February 10, 1840.

Queen Victoria on her wedding day, February 10, 1840.

You can credit Queen Victoria for the trend that has lasted 176 years when she decided against wearing the traditional royal silver bridal gown during her marriage ceremony to her beloved Prince Albert. Instead, Queen Victoria chose a simple dress, made of white satin, trimmed with Honiton lace and a Hontion long veil. She chose a wreath of orange blossoms to represent purity instead of the more traditional royal crown.

Just a few years after her wedding, Godey’s Lady’s Book, a popular lady’s monthly stated that white was “the most fitting hue” for a bride, “an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.” In the years that followed, white became the dominant, traditional choice, symbolizing purity and maidenhood.

 

 

Wedding Fashion, Did You Know…?

  • The first documented instance of a princess who wore a white wedding gown for a royal wedding ceremony is that of Philippa of England, who wore a tunic with a cloak in white silk bordered with grey squirrel and ermine in 1406.
  • White wedding garments were not originally intended to symbolize virginity. Blue was the color traditionally connected to purity. It was only at the beginning of the 1920’s, as white wedding fashions became popular among middle and lower classes, that white became equated with the purity of the bride
  • The lifting of the veil is an ancient wedding ritual symbolizing the groom taking possession of the wife or the revelation of the bride by her parents to the groom for his approval. An opulent veil was supposed to enwrap the bride like a precious present.
  • Hand made lace was extremely expensive and few brides could afford a veil. As the 19th century progressed and machine made laces became more readily available, the bridal veil became more prevalent at weddings.

Although brides today can choose from a myriad of colors and styles, the traditional white and ivory dresses are still most popular, as many today view white not so much as a symbol of wealth but rather one of purity and virtue.

Have you been to a wedding where the bride wore a color other than white or ivory?

 

 

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