Monday, December 4, 2017

Marriage propsals and their silly traditions

Monday, December 4, 2017
oldbearnews editor

Ahhhh where to begin with???  Neither of my boys shows any sign of having any sort of relationship let alone a steady one - so probably be safe here to spend a few thoughts on the subject.  I did have a few notions of using this as a speech at their wedding - I F that ever would come to fruition . . . . eventually even . . . .
anyhow - traditions - lets see . . .
As the song goes (Brenda Lee) "Lets jump over the Broomstick" it is an ancient custom in Africa - the prospective female fashions a broom from the twigs and timber harvested from where-ever and the male  builds the tiny hut where the future couple is meant to live - happily ever after - so to speak.  The girl will at some stage, rest the broomstick across the entrance door frame of the prospective groom and when the couple hold hands and literally jump across the leaning broomstick - the rest of the village "knew" that these two are now a couple and us such are "off-limits" from any other love-struck pursuing native.  Said broomstick then fulfills its purpose as a house-sweeping-cleaning-tool and oddly enough also as a tool to keep the perhaps not so suitable hubby "in line".  Being publicly flocked with "that" broomstick was a public humiliating scene.  Lastly - the reverse can happen as well - eg if both hold hands and jump OUT from the hut and over the broomstick, they were deemed to be separated and back on the "market"!
Well - so the story goes.  Seems there is no evidence that this actually took place in Africa - yet was common practice in USA during the slave years (for a variety of reasons.)  One story even has it as a custom from Wales (via Gypsies) as an established practice there!   It is however a tradition that many couples do theses days mostly in the USA as part of their wedding ceremony.

There are of course many many more ways to get to the point of asking or being married - free will or arranged.  In Japan there is the 'Miai' tradition along with all its rituals often culminating into a Tea-drinking ceremony - or was that in China??? It was also very common (and still happens in this day and age) for "arranged" marriages to take place - for various reasons.

In Old Europe - the term "hand in marriage" to signify engagement and future wedding/marriage was commonly used - and there exists a written record as far back as 1200's of having asked THE question.  The term itself was derived from the actual marriage ceremony where the Bride puts her hand on top of the groom and the priest of the time would waffle on about love and commitment and rules and whatnot.  Actually it was a little bit more symbolic then that.  The words " the bonds that tie us" were there for a reason, as follows: 
During the ceremony the priest often would use a lengthy piece of rope and physically tie both hands together  or better - her right hand to his left hand.  Later on in times past - during the wedding ceremony, the rope was dispensed with and the priest would use part of his dress robes-cord to 'lay over' the couples hands - which then progressed to the priest's stoles - which progressed to Gold rings being used - often called the "Band of Gold that ties/binds us together" ! So to ask for a "hand in marriage" was really a statement of intent to "tie the knot"!
What a lot of people no longer understand, let alone know, is that the "actual tied knot" lasted 24 hours!! Seems cruel yet it full filled several important functions.
(one should try this at home at some stage!!) 

With Groom and Bride often still having been more or less strangers to each other - it served to really emphasizing the notion that him and her are now a couple and as such "off limits" (again that term) to the rest of the public.
Further - it literally prevents any other male or female in "cutting in" during the dance that often would follow - thus re-enforcing the 'off-limits' notion! (you should try and do a three-some dance - it just does not work!) Then there are the practicalities - such as eating - or the required teamwork just to get fed (which could be the reason why there is the tradition of the feeding each other pieces from the wedding cake - often turning into a laughable slapstick comedy (pie-in-your-face) action).  Decisions to be made could no longer be done in isolation off each other as you had the "ball and chain" attached to you! This in turn gave you a crash course in communication 101!! (you could not just duck out for a quick loo stop without your partner "knowing" - you had to take the partner with you . . . (the you know - I want to go over there and speak to - no I want go there first . . . .  )
Considerations for "other then yourself" - needed to be learned in a hurry as nothing focused these, while being physically tied together. Later on in the night - the urm "first night of the honeymoon", there could no longer be any shyness about being naked (in front of each other) and I am sure led to a some comical 'undressing' and celebration of the 'consummation'!
The 'bonds that tie us' were often kept, sometimes re-appropriated for other uses.  Sometimes I think that this practice would benefit most couples in our modern times and 'might' lead to less divorce rates - but - as they say - this is another story for another time!

So a "hand in marriage" progressed to the modern western ceremony of kneeling and proposing - along with THE engagement ring - which as shown above, harks back to the times of "tying the knot".
I find it odd that in some countries there is the practice that only one party actually wears a wedding ring - usually the woman.  Often wonder what kind of message this carries . . . .

It is still a common practice for the male (almost exclusively) to "pop the question"!  In Scotland and Ireland, 29 February in a leap year is said to be the one day when a woman can propose to her partner.  Finland has the same custom, with the addition that a man rejecting such a proposal was expected to buy his suitor enough cloth for a skirt as compensation.  As a monarch, Queen Victoria had to propose to Prince Albert.
However proposals by women have become more common in the English-speaking world in recent years, so jewelry companies have started to manufacture engagement rings for men.
In the United States, about 5% of proposals are made by women.  Younger people are less likely to approve of women proposing.  We got a very long way yet to go before we can say we are truly a equal opportunity society. 

In many cultures it is traditional for a man to ask permission from a woman's father, in private, before proposing to her, or if her father has already died and she is still young of a near relation of hers.
In earlier times it was common for fathers to refuse proposals from men whom they considered unsuitable as husbands for their daughters.   Which brings me to my own engagement - yes yours truly still had to ask the question from Grandad. Although to be fair  - it was POST-engagement - it was already a 'done deal', as far as we were concerned, the ring more or less already ordered!!! Still traditions had to be obeyed.  We would have been in trouble had the question been refused . . . . .

Which in a long-winded-round-about-way-waffle brings me to the most famous of all Betrothals -  that of a certain Mary and Joseph.  Traditionally a engagement signaled the commitment by 2 people  to each other with a  view to marriage and the 'wedding ceremony'  was the 'confirmation' or public 'celebration' of that commitment. For  many the 'engagement' part is far more important then the marriage part, and it is a pity that through-out history this is or was twisted into something more sinister (virgin marriage - proof thereof  - poor Marie Antoinette was practically raped in front of the entire french nobility in order to "proof", via bloodstained linen, her 'virginity').
Technically both Mary and Joseph (more her though because of the way the patriarchal society was working at the time) were in a lot of trouble by the time they got to Bethlehem.  One assumes they eventually got married, as the story goes and we find out later, that the 'first born' in the famous stable had more brothers / sisters.  Wonder what kind of wedding celebration they would have had - not a lot is said about that in that book.

Anyhow - boys - so far you are safe from me telling the story although, like a good prepared scout,  I already got the rope organized. . . . . ok - until . . . . . :)

Merry Christmas to all

 Have fun! bear print

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unus ursus said...

Intrestingly - this from today's The Press :

It makes for interesting reading - especially if you dive into the comments sections. One of the threads is about modernism versus the relevance of old traditions in our times. A much deeper question would be what marriage in itself is actually about (and what IF ANY traditions come with that).

Full text below - just in case this page 'dis-appears' from the net . . . .


OPINION: A lot has changed in the last year. Women around the world took to the streets to march against Donald Trump. The horrors of the grubby Hollywood casting couch have been exposed, triggering a #metoo movement. And 2018 has now been dubbed the Year of the Woman.
Women have a voice and right now, it feels like we are being heard. It's a satisfying slither of equality and it tastes delicious. But this fast-paced rise is about to hit an unappetising bump.
This Wednesday, as Valentine's Day rolls in for another year, it's believed around six million loved-up couples will end the day saying "I do".
This in itself isn't the stumble in our stride. Getting engaged is a heart-exploding milestone (for most). You found your human and decided they are for keeps - a moment which should be celebrated.
But for most women, they will be the last to be asked.
The tradition of the would-be groom asking the father for permission is one that is still going strong in modern relationships. In fact, a 2015 study of 1200 grooms found that 77 per cent asked their bride-to-be's father or parents first.
But why do we have such a long-term commitment to a tradition that is not only outdated but seriously smacks of sexism?
Those 77 per cent are mindlessly following a tradition that hasn't had a modern modification since its birth in the 11th century, where women were handed from one man - her father - to another man - her husband - as property. It was a business deal.
And yes, there's plenty of sexist traditions with weddings, like still favouring a virginal white gown (who are we kidding?) and the irritating expectation that a woman's surname dissolves.
But in these situations, women have a choice. Feminism and in turn, equality, isn't necessarily about avoiding what is sexist, but having the freedom to either roll with it or snip it.
When I was proposed to in 2015, my dad wasn't asked first. I was. And it was a spontaneous, picture-perfect proposal without the protocol.
The thought of my dad and husband-to-be shuffling through an awkward conversation about my future is laughable.
I'd been brought up to be an independent woman who makes her own decisions. And really, the last time I asked my dad for permission was a good two decades ago, and probably about how many guinea pigs I was allowed. Why would I start now?
But as each of my female friends, each powerful cheerleaders of equality, have got engaged, they've confessed that they were happy that their partners had followed tradition.
Most claimed it was about respect for their father, retitling it as seeking a "blessing" rather than asking for permission. But rename and repackage away, the message is clear - we don't want to upset our dusty fusty fathers.
Women can walk the streets in their undies for the #slutwalk, they can rally for equal pay and Tweet about a man making them feel uncomfortable.
But when faced with our dad's disappointment, we prefer to dress-up sexist tradition as a quaint pastime.
If 2018 is truly going to be the Year of the Woman, can we get there if we pick and choose equality based on what is trendy and fashionable, rather than facing squirmish situations closer to home?
Women, it's time to say I do…but to being asked first. After all, who wants to be peddled in the same way as a few goat or a rather sturdy cow?

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