Upon awakening after spending their first married night together, the Anglo-Saxon husband would present his new bride with her morgen-gifu – literally, ‘morning-gift’. This gift was hers to keep, in her own right, for the rest of her life; neither divorce nor her husband’s death could take it from her. It might be jewellery – a string of pearls or amber beads, silver or gold neck chains or brooches, a ring set with precious lapis or garnets. Or it might be a grant of land, or even a flock of sheep. In the morning they were truly wedded, and the giving and acceptance of the morgen-gifu sealed their new bond with a loving start to their married life. Let’s make this ancient custom our own again.
Interested in Medieval social customs? Tell me.