WHAT IS A 'CHIVAREE?
(shivaree (shiv-uh-REE) noun, also spelled chivaree, chivari, charivari
A noisy, mock serenade to a newly married couple, involving the banging of kettles, pots and pans. Usually on the couple's wedding night, a group of neighbors (or friends) wait until they are sure lights are out in the couple's house, than they sneak up to the house .. and with various noise makers, shout and make a ruckus hopping to interrupt the couple on their night's activity. They keep up until the couple come out and hand out cigars or candy bars (which they bought earlier, suspecting that they would be 'chivereed'.)
Here is an excerpt from my second Hank of Twin River's book, VIEW FROM THE EAGLES NEST soon to be published.
Uncle Mac tossed Hank his coat. “Laddie we be goin' to a chiveree.”
“What’s a chiveree?”
“Ye’ll find out.”
Hank was surprised to see most of the neighbors with their children grouping outside. Every one was there except the Twiddles. Even Moses and the Chung brothers were in the crowd. Each one held some kind of item, a tin plate and a spoon, a saw and hammer, whistle, a chuck wagon triangle bell with a striker, a washboard. The children held pots and wooden spoons.
“Here, Sonny, you need a noise maker too.” The Major handed Hank a cowbell. “Hang on to the clapper and keep it quiet.” He waved his hand and called in a low voice, “Let’s go. And be quiet.” The only light they had was the full moon.
Hank followed as the group silently approached Pa’s new house, which was dark inside. A feeling of mystery filled the air. He could feel the excitement but he didn’t know what was going to happen. Major Beams placed his finger on his lip. No one made a sound. Major Beams nodded to Hank. “Ok Sonny, when I raise my hand ring that bell as loud as you can.”
“Um, I don’t think Pa is going to like being woken up this late.”
Major Beams raised his eyebrows. “I dare say he won’t, Sonny.” He gave the signal. A loud clamor arose from the group. Hank hesitated still afraid that Pa would be angry, but everyone was doing it. The excitement finally overshadowed the fear and he waved the bell with all his strength.
The door opened and Pa in his nightshirt stepped out, shotgun in his hands. He raised it in the air and shot. Hank dropped his bell and hid behind Major Beams. Another shot went above their heads. Pa must be really angry. “What in tarnation are you shysters doing waking a newly married man on his wedding night?” Pa shouted above the noise. “Get on home or I’ll put my aim on you!
“Pay the price, J.B., or ye’ll never get back to bed.” Uncle Mac shouted. The crowd cheered and continued with the clamor of noisemakers.
To Hank’s amazement, Pa placed his gun against the wall. “Well, now, if you insist.” he turned to the door where Lily Mae watched. “Mrs. Heaton, please bring out that box that is in our bedroom.”
Lily Mae stepped out in her house robe, her hair falling down to her waist. Hank stared. He didn’t know her hair was that long. She always had her hair up in a bun. Pa opened the box. “I hope what we have in this box will make you go away. Make two lines, the men in front of the Mrs. and you ladies and children line up in front of me.”
Hank moved in line with Uncle Mac. Major Beams gently pushed him over to the women and children’s line. “You’re not a man yet, Sonny.”
Hank grumbled as he moved to the children’s line but when he saw Lily Mae handing each man a cigar he gladly accepted the sack of hard candy Pa handed him. Pa only gave out candy at Christmas time. He shoved several more packages into Hanks hands. “Here give Rebekah and her brothers these.”
After everyone received their treats Pa and Lily Mae went back into their house and the others headed back to their homes. “Now you know what a chiveree is, Sonny.” Major Beams grinned. Hank sure did and he couldn’t wait until next Sunday when he saw Becca and could tell her about the chiveree and give her a sack of candy.
Introduce yourself to Hank Heaton in Book One , JOURNEY OF CHANGE, at these links: