|One Busy Guy presents...
A Brief History of Marriage
Did you know that in Australia a de-facto marriage may be declared if something so innocuous like a toothbrush is left at the home of a former lover... overnight?
A happy couple is showered with rice to encourage a fruitful union. Now we're chastised not to throw rice since it may be devoured by birds thus expanding in their crop with dire consequence. Other countries throw figs or dates etc.
Astonishingly it was The Code of Hammurabi that set down the first civilized laws of marriage and the raising of children. Hammurabi was the ruler of ancient Babylon between 1795 and 1750 B.C. Given the plight of women in the Middle East it is apparent that the code has been dreadfully perverted. In the 5th or 6th century a group of men (early lawyers) put forth the 'Justinian Code'. Basically this consisted of a statement designating that 'this man and this woman' are a couple.
It wasn't so long ago that a 'public display of affection' (i.e. kissing) was in some way punishable. In 1562 it was banned in Naples under penalty of death! Today of course Italy is famous for 'La Dolce Vita'! Many scholars believe that kissing as a means of expressing affection can be traced back to the act of feeding children. Mothers routinely transfer food to their children from their own mouths.
Incredible as it may seem Priests were not required to perform marriage ceremonies until after the Council of Trent in 1563.
Apparently it was not even considered a sacrament until after 1453. The old testament of the bible mentions nothing about exchanging vows. In fact marriages at the time were considered to be 'free' or 'common law' whenever the relationship was recognized by other members of society.
It wasn't until 1753 that a fellow named Lord Hardwick put forth a form of standardized marriage law. Of course, as in most of history, this code gave no rights to women. It was mostly for the benefit of the wealthy since they were empowered to buy their way out of a relationship. The poor would simply abandon their union.
Marriage was mostly about property exchange. In some families the details were handled by the father or eldest son. Curiously it was the wealthiest men who insisted upon listing property rights and formalizing the union for all to see. Men at the time tended to marry later in life giving them a chance to succeed in business. They also took younger wives. Eventually a struggle for dominance in the marriage arena between church and state would follow, each wanting to exert control over the mating and financial affairs of the participants.
Movie icon Jane Fonda has stated publicly that 'marriage was invented at a time when people died at age 40'! As an institution marriage has endured the barbs of comics, the judgment of law, and the permissive nature of contemporary morality. Indeed, the very worst of the marriage experience is forever captured in sit-com hell! Still the dream of residing in marital bliss with our soul mate for eternity beckons as the brass ring of romance.
Today the most popular time of year for marriage is the spring. There is a certain charm in being a June bride! Some say that weddings were convened in June because attendees were still relatively fresh from the annual May bath. Originally a brides fragrant bouquet was intended to mask any scent of the unwashed. Coincidently, June is the month wherein we honor our male parent... Father of the Bride.