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Prenuptial Rituals in Scotland Blackening the Bride and Decorating the Hen

by Sheila M. Young

Part of the Studies in Folklore and Ethnology: Traditions, Practices, and Identities Series

Prenuptial Rituals in Scotland Blackening the Bride and Decorating the Hen Synopsis

The hen (or bachelorette) party, with its groups of visible, raucous women on trains, planes, and in public spaces is ubiquitous throughout the English-speaking world. The practice of the blackening, a unique form of kidnapping and punishment ritual, is limited to North Eastern parts of Scotland and to specific sectors of the population. Both are prenuptial rituals enacted by women. In Prenuptial Rituals in Scotland, Sheila Young produces a thorough description of how these two rituals were and are enacted and analyzes the ways these practices have changed through time as a social commentary. Young's study provides valuable insights into identity, gender, social class, contemporary attitudes to ritual, and what it means to approach marriage in the twenty first century.

Prenuptial Rituals in Scotland Blackening the Bride and Decorating the Hen Press Reviews

This fascinating book offers detailed accounts of two Scottish rites of passage associated with weddings. One, the hen party, is familiar to most in the United Kingdom and many outside it. The other, the blackening, which primarily involves pouring disgusting substances over the bride and/or groom, may be unknown even to substantial numbers of Scots. As the latter's terminology suggests, participants are pretty exclusively White. But they're also mainly heterosexual, cisgender, and cissex. Those who take part in hen parties need sufficient economic capital in the form of income or credit but those involved with the blackening must have a particular kind of cultural capital that comes from insiderhood in specific local communities. Combining ordeals and hazing with expressions of love and community support, these edgy events require social and economic investment. And the possibilities for spectacular failure-from disappointment and hurt feelings to physical violence-clearly show that the alibi that these customs are fun doesn't tell the whole story. There are implications for gender, sex, sexuality, class, religion, and nation. Interpreted by participants as both positive and negative experiences, the raucous, sexualized, and obnoxious elements of these transitional rituals demonstrate the ambivalence that characterizes life partnering in Scottish cultures today. -- Pauline Greenhill, University of Winnipeg, Canada

Book Information

ISBN: 9781793603869
Publication date: 11th October 2019
Author: Sheila M. Young
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 220 pages
Categories: Sociology: customs & traditions,

About Sheila M. Young

Sheila M. Young is honorary research associate and guest lecturer at the Elphinstone Institute.

More About Sheila M. Young

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