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Shoutbox

Narya
12/12/17 11:12 pm
Oh, ziggy, btw, are you happy with Friday or is Saturday easier for you? I can do either.
Narya
12/12/17 03:27 pm
Great pair of chapters, ziggy and cheeky! I'm so excited to see what happens next.
NelyafinweFeanorion
12/12/17 02:12 pm
Ok Ziggy Thursday it is for me!
cheekybeak
12/12/17 10:28 am
I managed it :-) and even got the next chapter up early! Not my best, but it was a busy day. That's my excuse.
ziggy
12/12/17 07:26 am
@Cheekybeak- Haha! Serves you right for the last curved ball:D Nelya- yes, fine. You do Thursday, I'll find it easier doing Friday anyway.
NelyafinweFeanorion
12/12/17 01:14 am
Ziggy do you have Thursday too? If not I can do Thursday instead of Friday if someone else wants to pick up Friday? Let me know!
cheekybeak
12/12/17 01:05 am
Oh, seriously, Ziggy?? What are you doing to me?! How do I follow that???
cheekybeak
12/12/17 12:58 am
Me!
ziggy
12/12/17 12:16 am
OK- sorry ! Who's next?
ziggy
12/11/17 10:41 pm
I am onto the next chapter but got home very late- apologies. Scribbling away as we speak (sort of)
Shout Archive


Wedding Customs in Rohan and Gondor by curiouswombat

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It was a fine, warm, late summer morning and so Cwenhild and Lothíriel were sitting on a balcony of the castle of Dol Amroth overlooking the sea. Now that Lothíriel had a basic understanding of Rohirric they were discussing her wedding and the vows she and Éomer would make.

“It does sound a much simpler sort of wedding than it would be if it were in Gondor,” Lothíriel said, as Cwenhild explained the ceremony.

“But none the worse for that, just different!” she added quickly. “Here there are ribbons to wind around the hands of the bride and groom, to symbolically tie them together, and someone important performs the marriage ceremony for them and tells them at the end that they are now married.”

“That seems a bit unnecessary to me,” her friend and mentor said. “It is up to the bride and groom to marry each other – you’ll be the ones consummating it – you don’t need anyone else to be involved when you are doing that bit, or to decide whether you did it properly.”

She paused. “Actually, there is one thing about the bedding. I was going to talk about the wedding feast but I can go back to that, and the speech making, and so on.”

Lothíriel was torn between wanting to know how the Rohirrim sorted out precedent at the wedding feast, and who made speeches, and finding out more about the ‘one thing about the bedding’, which sounded rather ominous, knowing some of the customs still adhered to in some families and some parts of Gondor.

She let Cwenhild go on; she was right, they could come back to the wedding feast and the speeches. As well to know the worst as soon as possible!

“To make sure people know the marriage is going to be consummated, and that both the bride and groom are happy about this, the groom actually stands up and says that they are now going to go and do just that. He does it so that everyone present knows, and it is the last chance the bride will get to change her mind. If she says ‘No!’ then, even though they’ve made their vows, her friends and family will gather around her and make sure she can leave unhindered, and the wedding is deemed not to have happened.”

“Oh. Well that sounds very sensible. I mean just sneaking off whilst nobody is looking has some appeal, but… does it mean people come with you to the bedchamber? Do there have to be witnesses to you at least getting into the same bed?”

Cwenhild looked a little shocked. “Who told you that? I mean, perhaps they might have done in the past, but not now. It can be a bit embarrassing, though, for the groom’s friends will usually begin to clap and cheer you out of the room, and right to the bedroom door, once they know the bride is willing to consummate the marriage.”

She looked thoughtful for a moment before she went on “And they can make some quite pointed comments and shout ‘advice’ to the couple. And I’m afraid Éomer might be king, but he is still quite young and had quite a number of friends amongst the Riders of the éoreds he served in… I do not think you will avoid that.”

Lothíriel didn’t think that sounded too bad. She went back to her friend’s question about why she might have thought there might be more to it than that.

“I don’t mind if they stop at the door. It isn’t unusual for there to be witnesses in the bedroom in Gondor if the couple are important – that’s why I thought they might do the same thing in The Riddermark.”

“Witnesses? You are making a joke, aren’t you?” Cwenhild said.

“Well, they don’t stay for the actual, you know, um, joining the bodies together bit. Well, not anymore.”

“Not anymore?” Cwenhild sounded quite shocked.

“They usually wait just until the bride’s friends undress her down to her shift, and there is something about a wedding nightdress so perhaps they stand around her and put it on her. The groom’s friends, um, I’m not sure if they take his breeches off him or not. But then they wait until the couple are both in the bed together.”

“They didn’t do that to your new King and Queen did they?” Now she sounded very shocked.

“No – not exactly. Although it is only married men and women who are the witnesses so I wasn’t part of that bit – I think they just waited until they both took off their crowns and then they lay down beside each other on the bed… or something.”

“Well thank Béma for that!”

“Miraina said that when her parents got married a witness stayed in the room as they actually consummated the marriage with just their bed curtains closed for privacy.”

“Privacy! I’d have thrown anyone who suggested doing that on my wedding night into the midden. Either that or we would have both jumped up and down on the bed, making appropriate noises, whilst the witness probably got more and more ‘excited’ imagining what we were doing. And we’d have left the actual sexual stuff until the next night when we were alone!”

Lothíriel got the giggles. She wasn’t too sure what might constitute ‘appropriate noises’, but the idea of bouncing up and down on a bed whilst some dignified older relative of hers, or Éomer’s, sat outside the bed curtains was almost funny enough that she might not even have minded if Rohan did have such a tradition. Except…

“But what about the inspection of the sheets in the morning if you had only pretended?”

“Inspection of the sheets?” Cwenhild asked. “Of course a maid would make your bed for you, and she would probably notice signs of the wet patch, or patches if the mead worked, and sometimes a trace of blood, but I don’t think I would call it an inspection.”

“Mead?” Lothíriel had been slightly diverted by the mention of mead.

“I was going to come to that later. But as you asked… Every bride and groom, from the poorest up to you and Éomer, will have mead and honey cakes put by the bedside to strengthen them so that they can do it again. As long as they can afford it, which is hardly going to be a problem for you two, they will have mead and honey cakes in their bed chamber for a whole moon cycle. But what did you mean about inspecting the sheets, Lothíriel?”

“Well, in a lot of families, especially when it has been an arranged marriage, because then it is as much about the families forming links as the bride and groom… In a lot of families, the bride’s mother and the groom’s mother go, together, to the wedding bed and inspect the sheets for blood. They both have to agree because it proves the bride was a virgin, so any children will definitely belong to the groom, and it also proves the groom is virile and was able to do the deed.”

“Béma! I am just imagining anyone suggesting doing it after you wed Éomer! The very suggestion that the King of the Mark was impotent would be seen as a very big insult. A very, very, big insult. Anyway, a bride or groom sometimes drinks too much at the wedding and all they do the first night is sleep. No-one thinks any the less of them; it is up to them when they enjoy the pleasures of the flesh.

“And some will have done it before the day of the wedding anyway so it is less important. As for bleeding – we lead energetic lives and many of us don’t bleed the first time, for the maidenhead has already been broken.”

She stopped, suddenly looking aghast, then asked Lothíriel, “They didn’t insist on that for Éowyn, did they?”

“No – Faramir took her away to Emyn Arnen in the late afternoon and only his guards went with them.”

“Praise Béma for that! Apart from anything else, neither of them have a mother, so goodness knows whose face she would have slapped.”

Lothíriel burst out laughing. “Neither Éomer nor I have either – I suppose Éowyn and Miraina would have had to do it. I am so pleased they won’t though.”

She thought of something else. “There really is no special thing with the bed-sheets then?” she checked.

“No – everyone is more interested in what your morning gift will be than how rumpled your sheets were.”

“Then I will tell you about the custom in Lossarnach, where Éomer’s grandmother came from, as she didn’t take it to Rohan with her. For there it is the responsibility of the groom to hang the blood-stained sheet out of the bedroom window, in the morning, for all to see!”

“No!” It was clear that Cwenhild didn’t know whether to laugh or be appalled – or both. Finally, she brought the conversation to an end with the final word on the subject.

“And Morwen Queen had the temerity to say that we were barbarians!”

Chapter end notes:

All the customs mentioned are genuine ones in one or another part of the lands around the Mediterranean - zeedrippyvessel also mentions one of them in her Rohan stories.

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