Hello - BIG June 2012
One of the happiest occasions that happens in a family is a wedding, which incidentally comes from the old English weddian ‘to pledge to do something’.
My son Patrick’s recent wedding was no exception. On a sunny afternoon in our local church, 150 family and friends gathered to see Patrick and Sarah marry and in our case to welcome Sarah into the Lovatt family.
Patrick’s brother Dominic was the best man, minding the ring and making the speech. His sister Kathleen was one of the bridesmaids, as well as Sarah’s sister Bec and two friends.
The usual old English word for the ceremony was bridelope, meaning a ‘bridal run’ in which the bride is led to her new home.
Sarah, a high school teacher, was a beautiful bride. I haven’t told her yet that the word bride, meaning ‘newly married woman’ comes from bru ‘to cook, brew, make broth’ because in the past, a married woman went to live with her husband’s family and these tasks were the daughter-in-law’s job.
Luckily for Sarah, Patrick has spared her this ordeal, and she has her own kitchen in which to cook, brew and make broth just for her husband - just joking - I’m sure he does his share of the cooking too.
Bridegroom comes from the old English brydguma ‘suitor’, groom of course meaning ‘a male servant who attends to horses’. Patrick was spared this task too, now that motor engines have replaced horses, and all he had to do was sit in the back of the wedding car and try not to look nervous.
Now that they are husband and wife, we can take a look at what this meant in old English. Wife, from oE wif, was a general word for ‘woman’ as in ‘midwife’ or ‘old wives’ tale’ and eventually became ‘mistress of a household’ while husband comes from husbonda from hus ‘house’ and bondi ‘occupier and tiller of the soil’. Patrick hasn’t tilled the soil much lately although he does the odd bit of weeding.
Everyone at Lovatts wishes Patrick and the new Mrs Lovatt a long and happy married life.
CHRISTINE’S HELLO appears every month in
Christine’s BIG Crossword magazine.
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