Heading out on a honeymoon after getting married is a modern day couple’s rite of passage, and appropriately so. This important period of time after saying “I do” lets couples relax and get away from everyday life and stress during a magical getaway together, often visiting exotic locales or those viewed as especially romantic. It is also a time meant to strengthen a couple’s bond and focus on intimacy. But how did this tradition come about, and what does honey have to do with any of it?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word honeymoon originated from “the idea that the first month of marriage is the sweetest”, hence honey in the word. The first known term recorded in English was hony moone, and goes back as far as 1546. The practice of newlyweds embarking on a vacation shortly after their wedding made its debut in Western culture in early 19th century Great Britain. The elite couples of that day would go on a “bridal tour”, often traveling alongside friends or family, to see family members who were not able to be present at their wedding. The custom became very popular and quickly spread throughout Europe, and in France was called a voyagé à la façon anglaise (English-style voyage) ever since the 1820s.
The modern version of the honeymoon focuses on the newly married couple traveling solely for pleasure to a destination, or several, that they find dreamy. This trend began during the Belle Epoque era, and was one of the first examples of the push for modern widespread tourism. Regardless of the fact that the common medical opinion in those days did not approve of women traveling in their perceived delicate and frail condition, going on some kind of journey for the honeymoon became a standard practice for newlyweds. The most favored destinations for a honeymoon in those days were Italy and the French Riviera, and most trips began the night of the wedding, with the couple departing sometime during the reception so they could catch a late ship or train.
While today’s version of the honeymoon can be anything the happy couple wants it to be, from mountain climbing to wine tasting to surfing, taking the time to be away together can certainly bring a couple even closer together. Whether they keep it old school and leave right after their nuptials or wait a few days to relax and recover before heading out on their big adventure, a honeymoon is something every couple should experience!