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Elven Customs

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The Elves had various Customs they practiced.


Spouses can choose each other long before they are married and be betrothed. The betrothal is subject to parental approval unless the parties are of age and intend to marry soon, at which point the betrothal is announced at a meeting of the two houses, during which the couple exchange rings. The betrothal lasts at least a year, and is revocable by the return of the rings (but is rarely broken). After their formal betrothal, the couple appoints a time for the wedding when at least a year has passed.

Marriage is celebrated at a feast of the two houses. The spouses return their betrothal rings and receive others worn on their index fingers. The bride’s mother gives the groom a jewel to be worn, but the marriage is only achieved with its consummation. Technically, only the words exchanged by the bride and groom (including the speaking of the name of Eru) and the consummation are required for marriage.

Naming conventions

The following traditions were done among the Noldor; other Eldar had slightly different conventions. The Noldor were typically given one name (an essë) at birth, a name that had little to do with who they were or their personality. This name was given by the father, therefore called the Father-name, and reflected either the name of the father or mother. As the Noldo grew older, he or she chose a second name, called a cilmessë, or "chosen name". This name reflected the Noldo's unique linguistic tastes. It was not used by those who did not know the Noldo well and would be considered rude to do so. In those cases, the Father-name (which remained the official one throughout the Noldo's life) would be used.

Names given by the mother (amilessi tercenyë, "mother names of insight") were rarely given, but were considered extremely important, as they divulged details about an Elf's personality or fate.

The epessë or the "after-name" was the fourth type. The after-name was given later in life (not necessarily by the Elf's kin), as a title of admiration and honour. In some circumstances, the epessë was chosen by the Elf himself or herself.

Some examples include:

  • Maedhros, the oldest son of Fëanor, was called Russandol (copper-top) by his brothers: he earned this epessë because of his ruddy hair. Maedhros itself was an epessë as well: his father-name had been Nelyafinwë (Finwë the third: Fëanor's own father-name had been (Curu) finwë), and his mother-name was Maitimo (well-shaped one).
  • Galadriel is the Sindarin translation of Alatáriel, the latter being the Telerin epessë originally given to her by Celeborn. Galadriel means "Maiden Crowned by a Radiant Garland". The name itself is an epessë: her father-name is Artanis (noble woman) and her mother-name is Nerwen (man-maiden).