Wedding Traditions Explained: The Honeymoon

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In today’s society the honeymoon refers to a holiday taken by newlyweds after the wedding day. It doesn’t take much thought to realise that this may not have always been the case. So, where did the honeymoon originate and how has it morphed into the holidays we take today?


If you’ve read our post on the wedding veil, you’ll know that marriage wasn’t always consensual. The Nordic word ’hjunottsmanathr’ may be the origin of the modern ‘honeymoon’.

’Hjunottsmanathr’ is the word used to describe the kidnapping of your wife. Men used to kidnap women to be their brides, without the permission of her family, and go into hiding. With these marriages, the ‘honeymoon’ period lasted for around a month; after this time either the woman’s family had stopped looking for her or she had fallen pregnant with her captor/husband.

Moon & Mead

The etymology of the word ‘honeymoon’ is thought to be much more pleasant. It originates from the old English word – Hony Moone.

‘Hony’ represents both the sweet period after the wedding and the beer made from honey; mead. Mead was often given to the newlyweds as a wedding present and therefore drunk in the weeks following the wedding.

‘Moone’ simply refers to a moon cycle. It was thought that when the cycle was complete, the sweetness and tenderness of the initial marriage would start to wear off. This became known as the ‘honeymoon period’.


So how did we go from kindapping and mead to an exciting holiday in the sun? That’s all thanks to the Victorians.

In the 19th century, more couples were marrying for love (or at least consenting to marry each other). In the month following the wedding Upper class newlyweds would travel away from their families to have time alone, and to consummate their marriage. The lower classes weren’t left out entirely – they may take a day trip to a local seaside town or stay overnight in the closest city.

Today we think of a honeymoon as part of every wedding. Whether it’s a holiday of a lifetime or a mini-moon in the lakes, having some time after the wedding day with your new spouse is something that won’t be changing any time soon.

honeymoon etymology

Want to know more about wedding traditions? Take a look at our Wedding Traditions Explained series.