Drumming or Shivaree?

I had never heard it called anything but a drumming. But when I looked it up, I found it was known as a shivaree. I wonder have you ever been ‘shivareed’?

I was only a teenager when I first heard of it and, by then, the custom had mostly died out. Now, very few people even know what a shivaree was. I only went to one of them and it was held for my husband’s uncle, shortly after he and his wife were married. A big group of us drove to

Getting ready for a Shivaree??

Getting ready for a Shivaree??

their home, following a truck full of people who were hammering on a circular saw. We gathered outside their house, late at night, making a lot of noise. Some of us banged on pots and pans, kettles, some rang cow bells, clearly making a big ruckus until the couple came outside. I don’t remember if they were in their pajamas, but that was generally the case. They were then hoisted up into the truck and taken for a ride through town, serenaded by honking car horns. Back home they were expected to feed the crowd of people. It was all in fun, but if no food or treats were offered to those present, tricks were sometimes played on the newly weds and there were times when pranks took place, regardless.

Drumming at Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida.

Drumming at Siesta Beach, Sarasota, Florida.

 I knew of an incident where some of the revelers stayed behind, and poured cereal in between the sheets of the newlyweds’ bed, removed labels from canned goods and knotted clothes together.

Yes, it was all in fun and about the time I heard of it, the 1950’s and 1960’s, the custom was no longer in vogue and seldom practiced. From what I hear,

Crowds attend the drummings at Siesta Beach.

Crowds attend the drummings at Siesta Beach.

though, in the 19th and early 20th centuries every bride and groom had better be ready to have a party once the wedding was over and they were settled in their home for the night. It may have been extreme but the groom was sometimes  carried around the house on a fence rail while the bride was put in a wash tub or pushed through town in a wheel barrow. In retrospect, this sounds rather barbaric. Both of them wondered if they would see each other again. Being transported together on a horse and wagon or in the back of a truck came later.

Dancers join in the fun using hoola hoops.

Dancers join in the fun using hoola hoops.

You may be wondering how this subject has ended up on shirlandyou. It’s because an actual drumming is held each Sunday evening near where we are spending the winter. Yes, at beautiful Siesta Key Beach, Sarasota, Florida,  just before sunset,  a drum circle forms between lifeguard stands 3 and 4. This all began rather spontaneously and has continued now for years, and draws hundreds of people, some bringing their drums, tambourines, bells and shakers. Others gather to watch the show and catch the rhythmic beat of the drums. By dusk, the group has grown to an impressive swell of drummers eager to add their personal vibe. Street performers, whirling dancers and

Setting of the sun marks the end of the drumming , soon the beach with be vacant left to the sea gulls.

Setting of the sun marks the end of the drumming , soon the beach with be vacant left  only to the sea gulls.

spectacular fire jugglers enchant the crowd for a few hours. Some people look for the same drummers each week and say some appear to be the leaders, but really, no one is in charge and the event is free. How did it all get started? No one is really sure, but many people gather in hopes of seeing the ‘green flash’. This is a phenomena that occasionally occurs just as the sun is disappearing below the horizon. A green flash is more likely to be seen in clear air, when more of the light from the setting sun reaches the observer without being scattered. I haven’t been fortunate enough to see it, although others with me say they have. I have, however, enjoined hanging out with the crowd watching the carefree performers of the amazing Siesta Key Drum Circle. It is definite that the continuous rhythmic noise is a Drumming, but certainly not a Shivaree! 

(Siesta Key photos by JANINE BROCIOUS)

14 thoughts on “Drumming or Shivaree?

  1. Well, the subject of this blog is certainly one that I have never heard of before. Was shivaree really a common practice that was done to newlyweds??? I can’t imagine creating such a rude disturbance and intruding on the privacy of a newly wed couple. (It is easy to see why this is no longer done.) LOL The Shivaree or drumming in SIesta Key, that you described, seems to be a very different celebration. Is it similar to a Mardigras celebration? I have been down to the Keys several times and your pictures are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them. I’m glad that you are enjoying your time in Florida.

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    • So, Coleen, you don’t think that a shivaree is any way to treat a bride and groom? Some friends, right? But it was such fun for those holding the event. I must confess, I’m glad we didn’t experience such a happening.

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      • I agree, Shirley. It was all done in fun. A big surprise party. I don’t think the newlyweds were at all upset by the practice.

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  2. My cousin and his wife were subjects of a shivaree on their wedding night. That would have been back in 1970, but I haven’t heard of one since then. It’s really too bad that old customs like that have just died away.

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  3. I remember drummings. That one, the bride and groom were taken to the McKendree Grange Hall and there was a big party for them. I remember my uncle telling about one in which the bride and groom were transported around town in a manure spreader!

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  4. In 1985 when my husband Tom and I were married a week, friends and family came to our house to “Drum” us. While we were gone on the ride they did some redecorating in our house. All our canisters were turned upside down on our counters, barley seeds were put in our shoes, our bed was taken apart, clothes taken our of our dressers, and shaving cream spayed in the bathroom!! At the time I was very angry, but I am over it now.

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    • So drummings were being later than I thought and carried to an extreme. I’d have been angry,too, Kim. Twenty-seven years later your not angry anymore. That’s pretty good.:) I’m sure you laugh now, but that definitely wasn’t a laughing matter at the time. Thanks for writing. Hope to hear from you next time.

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  5. Sounds to me like this has carried over to our wedding celebrations…the glass tapping to get the couple to kiss..the dance where the guests keep the groom from getting to his bride and once he does…swoopes her off in the well decorated vehicle with tin cans hanging and banging. We once gave a going away shower to friends and we All brought label free canned goods.

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    • So we’ve actually found someone who pulled some of those tricks on newly weds. LOL – a shower where everyone brought label free canned goods, how awful, but fun.:) Thanks for writing Karen, I love hearing your comments.

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  6. In about 1955 my youngest of three older brothers and his wife got a shiveree by my two oldest brothers. They continued the church reception to a party at the newlyweds apartment. They secretly removed labels from cans of food. They also plied my sister in law with so much champagne that she got sick.

    On our wedding we avoided a shiveree by telling everyone that we were leaving for FL for our honeymoon. In point of fact, we went to our new apartment. About a month later while dusting the floor my wife learned that her dad had tied a little bell under the springs of our wedding bed. I’m ashamed to say we didn’t cause it to ring.

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