Horace and Myra's wedding day and how the townspeople did
their best to make sure their wedding night was 'memorable'?
Well the custom of 'shivare' goes back a long way.
other day some friends were driving through Senecaville in
Guernesey County when they heard the darnedest racket.
The were startled because Senecaville is normally a quiet,
sleepy little village. The biggest thing to happen there was
when Confederate raiders under Gen. John Hunt Morgan rode through
during the Civil War.
My Friends turned their car around and drove back to investigate
They found dozens of folks ringing bells and banging on pots,
pans and washtubs.
What was happening was that the pastor of Senecaville United
Methodist Church, Jim Ellison, had just married Sylvia White,
and the congregations of that church and nearby Mount Ephraim
Methodist, along with their neighbors, were giving them a 'belling'.
Ellison told me that 25 or 30 folks were making noise "with
most anything they could find" while he wheeled his bride
around the block in a wheelbarrow. The clatter continued until
he pulled up to the door of the parsonage and took her in.
Now, belling is an old time custom. The word belling is
used in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and West Virginia,
but in other parts of the country the practice is sometimes
called a shivare or charivari.
Sometimes cowbells were rung. Shotguns were fired, whistles
were blown and saw blades were banged to add to the clamor.
One friend told me that the custom of tying tin cans on the
bumper of the newlyweds' car is a spinoff of belling. She remembered
bellings in her hometown of Tippecanoe in Harrison County.
The crack 'Dispatch' library staff found information for me
that said the object of belling was to keep the groom away
from his bride on their wedding night. In the old days, couples
did not go on a honeymoon.
One item on the Internet said, "The chivaree is a playful
but rowdy gathering in which a newlywed couple's friends make
their wedding night a nightmare filled with noise. Banging
on pots, pans and washtubs, ringing bells outside the location
the couple was staying was the standard. Early chivarees included
the shooting of shotguns and an invitation from the bridal
couple to come inside with cigars for the gentlemen and lemonade
or tea for the ladies."
The account said that in some places, the bride was carted
around in a tub or a wheelbarrow, as the pastor's wife was
I also found some information that said the custom might have
come from ancient Europe and was meant to drive evil spirits
away from the newlyweds.
I think it's wonderful when folks keep customs alive in these
days when many traditions don't mean a hoot.
©John Switzer- Columbus Dispatch