Does this type of proposal sound like your worst nightmare? You and your partner are very much in love and you have the distinct feeling that the big question is coming, what you don’t want is for him to arrange a posh dinner in some Michelin-starred restaurant, then just before dessert, dramatically get down on one knee and proposing. Worse still, he could pop the ring into a glass of champagne or piece of cake. Does he want you to choke to death? And have you ever wondered why you have to show you’re betrothed by wearing a ring? One theory is that a diamond could ward off evil spirits, so the ring was like a talisman (who cares – it’s a diamond, after all!). If the thought of these proposals are embarrassing, here are a few proposal customs from around the world that will make your eyes water!
In ancient China, the entire betrothal and wedding process was handled by a go-between who had been hired by the families. Before the engagement could be officially set, a fortune teller would be consulted to ensure the couple’s birth dates were compatible. Once betrothed, if the man died before the wedding, the bride-to-be was considered a widow, as the engagement was seen as binding as the actual wedding.
Here, when a guy sees a girl he fancies, he sends her some beads. If she accepts the beads, it means she wants to marry him but she still needs her parents’ approval. Her parents would then signify this by adding an ornament to the bead necklace – at least the bride-to-be is getting some bling!
As social stigma is avoided at all costs on Sicily, the couple will announce an engagement very early in the relationship. It’s not uncommon for engagements to last ten years. When they finally decide it’s time to tie the knot, they set a date to wed in one or two years. Only when the date has been set will the two families meet and decide how to organise the wedding. If you were Sicilian, wouldn’t you just elope and get it over with?
In 6th century Germany, as well as the customary exchanging of goods between the families, the engagement process consisted of the would-be groom giving his intended a ring, a kiss (okay so far) and then, somewhat randomly, throwing a pair of slippers at her!
Bird lovers look away now. In the Ozark Mountains, a chap would put the dried tongue of a turtle dove in a girl’s house, hoping it would persuade her to marry them – I’m guessing they didn’t get out of the woods much.
After reading some of these ancient and current traditions, you should count yourself lucky if your man simply gets down on one knee!