The word ‘marriage’ denotes an action, contract, formality or ceremony, by which a conjugal union is formed. It can be defined as “an institution where interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged by a variety of ways, depending on the culture or demographic.” People marry for various reasons, such as legal, social, emotional, economical, spiritual and religious. The institution of marriage came into being, as societies wanted a secure environment for the perpetuation of the species, a system of rules to handle the granting of property rights and protection of bloodlines. Most primitive cultures did not have any formal ceremony. It was with time that the rituals evolved. Different cultures and different religions claim a different history of marriage. Read on further to know some interesting and amazing information on the origin and background of marriage.
Interesting & Amazing Information On Origin & Background Of Marriage
There is no evidence of the date when the first marriage took place, although the Old Testament does mention a little about marriage, since it was considered a family and household affair. Different cultures have different legends concerning the origins of marriage. The parents usually married off their children young. Usually, the marriage was for economic reasons and right after marriage, there were lots of children. The partners continued the relationship even if they were unhappy, abused or felt unfulfilled. One of the oldest and recorded marriages can be discerned from Hammurabi’s Code in the Mesopotamia Civilization.
One of the most frequent customs associated with marriage was the capture of woman by her intended husband, usually from a tribe other than to which he himself belonged. This symbolic seizure of wives continued in many places. According to the ancient Hebrew law, the man had to serve his intended bride’s father for a period. Some places involved a dowry i.e., the bride’s family giving money or presents to the groom and his family, while some demanded a bride price, that is, the groom or his family gave money or presents to the bride’s family. Sometimes, the union was accompanied by a ceremony, most commonly in the form of a feast.
In 1563, when marriages took place without witnesses or ceremonies, the Council of Trent declared that marriages should take place in the presence of a priest and at least two witnesses. Still, love wasn’t a necessary ingredient for marriage. Years later, the Puritans viewed marriage as a very blessed relationship that gave marital partners an opportunity not only to love, but also to forgive. European marriages were more like a business agreement, where the families arranged marriages of their children and romance, love or affection were not essential. The average age of marriage in Europe in the late 1200s to the 1500s was 25 years.
In the ancient Chinese society, people having same surnames were not allowed to marry and doing so was seen as incest. In ancient Greece, men usually married when they were in their 20s and 30s and expected their wives to be in their early teens. They married in winter and believed that marrying on a full moon brought good luck. Same-sex unions too have a long history of records. They were celebrated in ancient Greece and Rome, some regions of China and at certain times in ancient European history. The tradition of an engagement ring can be dated back to ancient Romans. They believed that the roundness of ring represented eternity and thus, it symbolized a union that was to last forever.
The legal institution of marriage, its rules and ramifications have changed over time, along with the way in which it is conducted. Couples wait until they are in their late 20s and do not marry just because of economic reasons. They marry someone they love, postpone having children and limit the number of children. Nevertheless, the concept of marriage hasn’t changed through the ages. It is still a bond two people, involving responsibilities and legalities, along with commitment and challenges. Marriages have also seen different varieties till date. They are polygamy, polygyny, polyandry, endogamy, exogamy, common law marriage and monogamy, to name a few.