Of course you’re all familiar with the tales of Robin Hood and his merry men. “Merry” is a term not often otherwise heard except in conjunction with the seasonal exhortative benediction: (Have a) “Merry Christmas!” In its association with Christmas it is a wish for your happiness and joy (joyeux noël) and pleasures of the holiday.
In conjunction with Robin Hood’s followers however, the term “merry” has a slightly darker tinge. It tends to depict boisterous, outrageous roughhousing behavior and mocking, harassing, and ridiculing intimidation. An often drunken, undisciplined, rowdy
gang if you will.
Although phonetically they may sound very similar, there is no historical or etymological connection between the terms “merry” and “marriage”. There is, therefore, no basis whatsoever for an expectation of merriment in marriage. If there is any merriment
at all in your marriage it is purely coincidental.
There is yet another expression also derived from Middle English that does share a common root with marriage, and that is the profane, diminutive interjection or ejaculation “Marry!” which, in essence references to and makes a (prayerful) intercessory appeal to The Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Mother of Jesus.
Marry! The lads were merry at the marriage!
This, of course, just begs the question: What then, is marriage?