- Aug 2010
- Welsh Marches
In earlier English usage (Elizabethan period onwards) a grass widow was an unmarried woman who slept around, so the word carried the same connotations as in that Danish sense (presumably by reference to her lying with men in the grass). Nowadays it just means a woman whose husband is often away, I don't know if there has been the same shift in meaning in Danish.The first of May is an old Catholic holiday, where you watched and prayed the night before.
However, it went out of fashion already in Catholic times. And the night ended with fornication and drunkenness.
To the horror of especially the priests after the Reformation, they preached against the custom, little did it help.
Women who ended up with a child from that night and no husband were called grass widows,græsenker in Danish.
I do not know the story of the English word, but that is the origin of the Danish word.