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
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.
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,
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.
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
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)