Late-night ruckus started as as­sault on new­ly­weds

The Arizona Republic - - News -

To­day’s ques­tion:

When I was grow­ing up in Min­nesota and South Dakota in the 1950s, new­ly­weds were the sub­ject of a shiv­a­ree. Neigh­bors would stand out­side the bed­room in the mid­dle of the night, fire shot­guns in the air, beat on doors and walls, and the cou­ple had to get up and make a lunch for ev­ery­one. Does this oc­cur

any­more and where did it orig­i­nate?

I cer­tainly hope it doesn’t hap­pen any­more. It sounds ter­ri­ble.

I put in some ac­tual work on this and found out it used to be very com­mon, es­pe­cially in the Midwest and parts of Canada. It is part of an old tra­di­tion from Eng­land and parts of Europe and it wasn’t al­ways meant as good clean fun.

In the Old World it was known as chari­vari and was a kind of so­cial reg­u­la­tion.

It was a way for com­mu­ni­ties to break up any re­la­tion­ships they didn’t ap­prove of.

Ac­cord­ing to find­my­, “Adul­ter­ers, wife beat­ers and cou­ples seen as hav­ing il­le­git­i­mate mar­riages were all at risk to have their doors knocked down by an an­gry mob in the mid­dle of the night. Some com­mu­ni­ties dis­ap­proved of a large age-gap between spouses, or if a wi­dow re­mar­ried too soon after her hus­band died.

“The in­ter­ven­tion in­volved noise­mak­ing, sham­ing ac­tiv­i­ties (be­ing pa­raded around town on a don­key) and some­times even killing. While they some­times re­sulted in the per­ma­nent dis­so­lu­tion of the cou­ple, they of­ten were just a way for the com­mu­nity to loudly voice their dis­ap­proval of the event — many times life re­sumed as nor­mal after­wards.”

Gaso­line is $2.59.9. What’s the .9 for?

It’s the old mar­ket­ing idea that $2.59.9 is cheaper than $2.60. Why this tra­di­tion per­sists, I don’t know. It goes back to the days when the fed­eral gov­ern­ment first im­posed a tax of a frac­tion of a cent on gaso­line.

Have a ques­tion for Clay? Reach him at 602-444-8612 or clay.thomp­son@ari­zonare­pub­

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