The origins of the word come from more
than 4,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia, 
where marriage was a contract and a bride 
was procured at a price that could be refunded 
under certain conditions like her infertility 
or death. There was also, supposedly, a thing 
called "The Babylonian Marriage Market," 
which a British artist painted in 1875 
depicting a row of girls seated on rugs 
of animal pelt—one of them anxiously 
checks her face in a hand mirror, while 
the girl beside her looks impassively 
at nothing at all. The girl on the auction 
block's already veiled, perhaps signifying 
that someone has bought her as his wife.
Just like we do in the modern world,
they'd celebrate nuptials with feasts
and presents: gold, silver, garments, food.
The Babylonians used a lunar calendar;
there's another story about how, in the month
after the wedding, the bride's father would let 
the groom have all the mead he wanted—
a beer or wine of fermented honey and yeast.
This is where the word honeymoon makes 
its first appearance.  It's not until upwards
of the late 1500s that it becomes associated   
with the idea of a pleasant hiatus away before 
the couple takes up the tasks of ordinary life.  
After we were married (potluck reception, but
special-ordered cake), we realized we never
really went on that kind of honeymoon—
Sure, the rental we got for the ceremony
was right by a tourist town famous for its May
wine made from Riesling grapes and flavored 
with woodruff herb. But thanks to a freak
winter storm, most of our guests were stuck 
there with us for the duration of the weekend.
Besides, we couldn't afford a trip somewhere else
with warm sea and sand, the kind you have to pay
airline tickets and hotel reservations for. Once
in a while we still talk about it, about where we'd go.
Perhaps not for a whole month, but somewhere
wondrously detached by just the slightest
translucent membrane from a world 
of mortgages and bills and nine-to-fives.

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