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A honeymoon is the traditional holiday taken by newlyweds to celebrate their marriage in intimacy and seclusion. Today, honeymoons by Westerners are often celebrated in destinations considered exotic and/or romantic.
This is the period when newly wed couples take a break to share some private and intimate moments that helps establish love in relationship. This privacy in turn is believed to ease the comfort zone towards physical relationship, which is one of the primary means of bonding during the initial days of marriage. The earliest term for this in English was hony moone, which was recorded as early as 1546.
In Western culture, the custom of a newlywed couple going on a holiday together originated in early 19th century Great Britain. Upper-class couples would take a "bridal tour", sometimes accompanied by friends or family, to visit relatives who had not been able to attend the wedding. The practice soon spread to the European continent and was known as voyage à la façon anglaise (English-style voyage) in France from the 1820s on.
Honeymoons in the modern sense (i.e. a pure holiday voyage undertaken by the married couple) became widespread during the Belle Époque, as one of the first instances of modern mass tourism. This came about in spite of initial disapproval by contemporary medical opinion (which worried about women's frail health) and by savoir vivre guidebooks (which referred the public attention drawn to what was assumed to be the wife's sexual initiation). The most popular honeymoon destinations at the time were the French Riviera and Italy, particularly its seaside resorts and romantic cities such as Rome, Verona or Venice. Typically honeymoons would start on the night they were married, with the couple leaving midway through the reception to catch a late train or ship. However, in the 21st century, many couples will not leave until 1–3 days after the ceremony and reception in order to tie up loose ends with the reception venue and/or simply enjoy the reception to its fullest and have a relaxing night afterwards to recover, before undertaking a long journey. In Jewish traditions, honeymoons are often put off seven days to allow for the seven nights of feasting if the visits to friends and family can't be incorporated into the trip.
The Oxford English Dictionary offers no etymology, but gives examples dating back to the 16th century. The Merriam-Webster dictionary reports the etymology as from "the idea that the first month of marriage is the sweetest" (1546).
A honeymoon can also be the first moments a newly-wed couple spend together, or the first holiday they spend together to celebrate their marriage.
"The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure" (Samuel Johnson); originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing the mutual affection of newly married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full than it begins to wane; now, usually, the holiday spent together by a newly married couple, before settling down at home.
One of the more recent citations in the Oxford English Dictionary indicates that, while today honeymoon has a positive meaning, the word was originally a reference to the inevitable waning of love like a phase of the moon. This, the first known literary reference to the honeymoon, was penned in 1552, in Richard Huloet's Abecedarium Anglico Latinum. Huloet writes:
Hony mone, a term proverbially applied to such as be newly married, which will not fall out at the first, but th'one loveth the other at the beginning exceedingly, the likelihood of their exceadinge love appearing to aswage, ye which time the vulgar people call the hony mone.—Abcedarium Anglico-Latinum pro Tyrunculis, 1552
The term most likely comes from an old English tradition that dates from the Middle Ages. Mead was drunk in great quantities at weddings, and after the ceremony nuptial couples were given a month’s supply of mead—sufficient for one full cycle of the moon. It was believed that by faithfully drinking mead for that first month, the woman would “bear fruit” and a child would be born within the year. Incidentally, raw honey has been shown in clinical studies to be a powerful fertility booster.
There are many words of similar meaning in other languages. The French form translates as "moon of honey" (lune de miel), as do the Spanish (luna de miel), Nepali (Madhumas) Portuguese (lua de mel) and Italian (luna di miele) equivalents. The Welsh word for honeymoon is mis mêl, which means "honey month", and similarly the Ukrainian (медовий місяць), Polish (miesiąc miodowy), Russian (медовый месяц), Arabic (شهر العسل shahr el 'assal), Greek (μήνας του μέλιτος) and Hebrew (ירח דבש yerach d'vash) versions. (Interestingly, Yerach is used for month, rather than the more common Chodesh. Yerach is related to the word Yare'ach for moon and the two words are spelled alike: ירח.) The Persian word is ماه عسل māh-e asal which means both "honey moon" and "honey month" (māh in Persian means both moon and month). The same applies to the word ay in the Turkish equivalent, balayı. In Hungarian language it is called "honey weeks" (mézeshetek). Likewise, the Tamil word for honeymoon is தேனிலவு (thaen nilavu), with thaen 'honey' and nilavu 'moon', and the Marathi word for honeymoon is मधुचंद्र (madhuchandra) with Madhu 'honey' and chandra 'moon', whereas in Bangla ('Bengali') language, it is referred to as মধুচন্দ্রিমা (modhuchondrima) with modhu 'honey and chondrima 'moon'.
A babymoon is a related term and refers to a vacation taken by a couple either soon before, or soon after, the birth of their baby, like the honeymoon which follows a wedding. The concept was first popularized in the 1990s as a period that parents spend bonding with a recently born baby. In the 2000s, it also described a vacation taken by a couple that is expecting a baby, in order to allow the couple to enjoy a final trip together before the baby is born.
|Look up babymoon in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
Sheila Kitzinger used the term "babymoon" in her 1996 book The Year After Childbirth, "The transition to fatherhood is easier when a man can take time off to be with his partner and baby in what I call a 'Babymoon'.
In 2004, Lisa Lewis described the newer meaning of the term in the Athens Banner-Herald:
|“||I have learned a brand new word — 'babymoon' ...This is just like taking a honeymoon except you’re pregnant... the purpose is to have one last 'hurrah' as a couple... before baby arrives.||”|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Honeymoon travel.|