Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love and Courtship Customs

A lot of folks are anxious about finding that perfect Valentine’s Day tribute for that special guy or gal.  Many of us will be spending money on flowers, candy, fancy dinners and sparkly jewelry.  That set me to wondering about these customs.  So, off I went into the wilds of the internet.  I found some fun facts about customs surrounding love that I’d like to share.

Medieval Courtly Love
Did you know that a lot of the courtship rituals practiced today have their roots in history? Medieval marriages were generally arranged to acquire property and money or form political alliances.  The notion of courtly love was a reaction to this practice.  Marriage in those days had little to do with love. Courtly love was celebrated in poems and song and became a way for nobles to express the tender feelings not found in their marriages. 

Chastity and honor were highly regarded virtues in medieval times.  Courtly love idealized pure love, not sex. It relied on elaborate codes of behavior and emotional attachments. "Lovers" had trysts in secret, which were never physical.  Yet the church condemned courtly love.

Although much of the poetry and other writings of the time allude to courtly love, there is some doubt as to whether the practice of courtly love really existed or was just an elaborate, ritualized smokescreen for adulterous affairs.  

Many of today's courtship rituals evolved from customs of medieval chivalry, such as serenading a loved one with music, writing love poetry and giving gifts of flowers and sweets.  
So, this Valentine’s Day, when you get that long-stemmed rose or dive into that box of chocolate truffles, remember those long ago knights and ladies.

Fun Facts about Love, Courtship and Valentine’s Day

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred, but the celebration of Valentine’s Day has its roots in a pagan fertility festival, Lupercalia.

During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating seasons.

Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1900s, printed cards became more popular.

According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year.

Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

Delicate twine is used in the Hindu Vedic wedding ceremony to bind one of the bride's hands to one of the hands of the groom.

Chivalrous English gentlemen often sent a pair of gloves to their ladyloves. If the woman wore the gloves to church on Sunday it signaled her acceptance of his proposal.

In Norway when a girl came to the age of marriage, her father let it be known she was available to suitors. The girl then wore an empty sheath on her belt. If a young man liked the girl, he would place a knife in the sheath, signifying betrothal.

The Puritans considered jewelry frivolous, so a man would give a woman a thimble when they became engaged. 

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