Liana and I are standing in the doorway of the hall looking out at the rain. The sun shines through the rain and the rain keeps falling. I say, “Monkey’s wedding”. Liana looks at me, “I haven’t heard that expression before?”
“It is something we say in Africa when the sun is shining the same time the rain is falling.”
Saying, “Monkey’s wedding” is a quaint memory from my childhood. It is something I taught my own daughter and my granddaughters too. It isn’t something one deliberately sets out to ‘teach’ but one of those sayings that children pick up because you use it in a certain identifiable situation. It is a colourful phrase that appeals to children – that appeals to people of all ages. The image of a monkey bridal couple complete with fluffy white dress and flowers, top hat and tails, sparks the imagination.
It has never entered my head that Australians don’t say, “Monkey’s wedding” when the sun shines through the rain. We have so many expressions in common but this one has slipped past the keeper. I wonder if it is because there are no monkeys native to Australia? I’ve had a look at Google and Wiki. It seems that the original phrase comes from the Zulu language – “… a loan translation of the Zulu umshado wezinkawu, a wedding for monkeys”. There is also a link to Portuguese casamento de rapôsa – vixen’s wedding – which then changed to casamento de macaco – monkey’s wedding.
The term ‘Sunshower’ seems to be the most commonly used expression in various parts of the world. Topically, The Word Detective says that in “In New York we used to say, “The Donald is fixing his hair”. Whether that is the POTUS Donald or not is a moot point!
There are so many places I could go with this blog entry. For example, Johan Huizinga in Homo Ludens and the instinct of play that nourishes so much of our philosophy. But that will turn this into a Sociology essay and bore most people witless. So, I’ll leave it here and just say … Next time you see the sun shining through the rain try saying, “Monkey’s wedding” – it’s guaranteed to make you smile.