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Marriage History

The Wedding

Marriages usually begin with a ceremony known as a wedding. This ceremony usually involved some sort of legal binding contract, outlining the rights and obligations of the partners, to each other, to their children, and to their relatives.

The Wedding Cake

In some parts of Europe in the 18th century, a small loaf of bread was broken over the head of the bride after she fulfilled her vows and left the Church. Single wedding guests would then scramble for the crumbs, placing them under their pillows at night as a wish that they would one day marry. This particular custom of history is believed to foreshadow the modern-day wedding cake.

Marriage History

The “Ties that Bind”

History shows, throughout the cultures of the world, marriage is associated with the “ties that bind”. In fact, in some African cultures, long blades of grass are braided together, and used to tie the hands of the bride and groom…an act that symbolizes their union together. In the wedding ceremony of the Hindu Vedic, delicate twine is used to tie one of the hands of the bride to one of the hands of the groom. Nearly way around the world, in Mexico, a ceremonial rope is loosely placed around the necks of the bride and groom in a gesture to identify their mutual “bound” together.

Ancient Customs

In the countries of Holland and Switzerland, a pine tree (ancient symbol of fertility and luck), was once planted outside the home of the new couple. Much further south, in South Africa, the parents of the bride and groom took fires from their own homes to start a fire in the home of their newly married children. In Ancient Armenia, two white doves were set free in a symbolic gesture of love and happiness. The American bride would pin a small pouch to her wedding dress. This pouch contained a small piece of bread, cloth, wood and a single dollar bill, a simple gesture to ensure that there would be enough food, clothes, shelter and money in their future marriage. Italian folklore stipulated that the groom carry a piece of iron in his pocket during the wedding ceremony, an act that was supposed to ward off the evil eye. The bride’s veil was worn to achieve the same purpose.

The 1960′s and 1970′s

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the women’s movement began, and feminists took aim at the institution of marriage. In the view of many, it was a “male dominated” institution, and should be identified as such. To add further impact, the arrival of the birth-control pill weakened the relationship between sex and marriage. The average age for first-time marriages started to rise, and divorce rates went through “the roof”. It was during this time that “living together” became common place.