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Monday, June 29, 2015

Charivari in Upper Canada

When an old man marries a young wife, or an old woman a young husband, or two old people, who ought to be thinking of their graves, enter for the second or third time into the holy estate of wedlock, as the priest calls it, all the idle young fellows in the neighbourhood meet together to charivari them. For this purpose they disguise themselves, blackening their faces, putting their clothes on hind part before, and wearing horrible masks, with grotesque caps on their heads, adorned with cocks’ feathers and bells. 

They then form in a regular body, and proceed to the bridegroom’s house, to the sound of tin kettles, horns and drums, cracked fiddles, and all the discordant instruments they can collect together. Thus equipped, they surround the house where the wedding is held, just at the hour when the happy couple are supposed to be about to retire to rest – beating upon the door with clubs and staves, and demanding of the bridegroom admittance to drink the bride’s health, or in lieu thereof to receive a certain sum of money to treat the band at the nearest tavern.

If the bridegroom refuses to appear and grant their request, they commence the horrible din you heard, firing guns charged with peas against the doors and windows, rattling old pots and kettles, and abusing him for his stinginess in no measured terms. Sometimes they break open the doors and seize upon the bridegroom…I have known many fatal accidents arise out of an imprudent refusal to satisfy the demands of the assailants.

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