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.
Even today, married couples in Sweden continue this lovely tradition. Let’s make this ancient custom our own again!
Interested in Medieval social customs? Tell me.