You may remember the call we had from Tony in Encinitas, California. He was curious about the term for an unusual hazing ritual.

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“My dad woke us up one night, about 8 o’clock. He said don’t be alarmed. There’s going to be gunfire and a lot of noise, and there’s going to be a lot of people in the house and there’s going to be a party. This is probably late spring. And lo and behold, next thing we knew there were trucks driving up and women coming in with food and we heard people shooting off guns and men doing what men do. It was a giant party. And I said, ‘Daddy what is this'” He said, ‘It’s a shivaree.'”

Well, it turns out that shivarees aren’t that unusual after all. Or at least, a lot of you have had experiences with these raucous surprise parties for newlyweds.

Amanda from Livingston, Montana says that shivarees were quite common when she was growing up in rural western South Dakota in 1960’s and 70’s.

“They usually took place long enough after the wedding that the happy couple had let down their guard,” she writes. “The revelers would turn up late in the evening in a noisy caravan and take over the house, rousing the hosts out of bed. Good-natured chaos ensued; short-sheeting beds, sprinkling cornflakes in the beds, and tearing the labels off the canned goods in the cupboards while the hosts were distracted by entertaining the crowd. It was a fun, harmless way to welcome the new couple into the community of adults.”

Guess that’s one way to do it.

We got another email from John. He’s a dairy farmer in Eleva, Wisconsin.

At the age of 40, John took his sweetheart took a trip to Colorado. While there, they ended up getting married.

“Upon our return,” he writes, “as news of our marriage leaked out, the farming community felt that they were deprived of a party. And thus plans for a shivaree were hatched.

“It happened in the early evening, after the milking chores had been done, on the night of a blue moon in August, 1985. A stream of pick-up trucks and cars paraded up our 3/4 mile-long driveway. In the back of some trucks were men shooting guns. In another, two men held a large lumber mill saw blade between them on a piece of pipe, striking it as if it were a large cymbal.

“After the initial shock wore off, I asked what was expected of me. The reply was that a quick trip to town was in order for cold beer for the men who lounged outside in the cool summer night air. Meanwhile the women took over the house and set up a buffet meal.

“The guests provided everything, from the table cloth, food service ware, napkins, coffee pot ready to plug in, food of all sort, and gifts to celebrate our marriage. After a memorable evening the women cleaned up and took with them all trash and evidence of the event.

“And again, Evelyn and I were left in the splendid evening of a blue moon in Wisconsin, our hearts filled with gratitude for the warmth and camaraderie of a small farming community.”

Not to mention for the women doing all the cooking and cleaning, right?

Well, we appreciate the warmth and camaraderie of our virtual community of language lovers, and we’re glad you’re a part of it. We hope you’ll drop us at line any you have language on your mind.

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