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Marriage rites the rites and ceremonies celebrating the rite of passage into marriage which varies from culture to culture.

Anthropological definitions Edit

Anthropologists have proposed several competing definitions of marriage that attempting to encompass the wide variety of marital practices observed across cultures.[1] In his book The History of Human Marriage (1921), Edvard Westermarck defined marriage as "a more or less durable connection between male and female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the offspring."[2] In The Future of Marriage in Western Civilization (1936), he rejected his earlier definition, instead provisionally defining marriage as "a relation of one or more men to one or more women that is recognised by custom or law".[3]

The anthropological handbook Notes and Queries (1951) defined marriage as "a union between a man and a woman such that children born to the woman are the recognized legitimate offspring of both partners."[4] In recognition of a practice by the Nuer of Sudan allowing women to act as a husband in certain circumstances, Kathleen Gough suggested modifying this to "a woman and one or more other persons."[5]

Edmund Leach criticized Gough's definition for being too restrictive in terms of recognized legitimate offspring and suggested that marriage be viewed in terms of the different types of rights it serves to establish. Leach expanded the definition and proposed that "Marriage is a relationship established between a woman and one or more other persons, which provides that a child born to the woman under circumstances not prohibited by the rules of the relationship, is accorded full birth-status rights common to normal members of his society or social stratum" [6] Leach argued that no one definition of marriage applied to all cultures. He offered a list of ten rights associated with marriage, including sexual monopoly and rights with respect to children, with specific rights differing across cultures.[7]

Duran Bell also criticized the legitimacy-based definition on the basis that some societies do not require marriage for legitimacy, arguing that in societies where illegitimacy means only that the mother is unmarried and has no other legal implications, a legitimacy-based definition of marriage is circular. He proposed defining marriage in terms of sexual access rights.[1]


Marriage ceremony Edit

Main article: Wedding
File:Shinto married couple.jpg

A marriage is usually formalised at a wedding or marriage ceremony. The ceremony may be officiated either by a religious official, by a government official or by a state approved celebrant. In many European and some Latin American countries, any religious ceremony must be held separately from the required civil ceremony. Some countries – such as Belgium, Bulgaria, France, the Netherlands, Romania and Turkey[8] – require that a civil ceremony take place before any religious one. In some countries – notably the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Norway and Spain – both ceremonies can be held together; the officiant at the religious and civil ceremony also serving as agent of the state to perform the civil ceremony. To avoid any implication that the state is "recognizing" a religious marriage (which is prohibited in some countries) – the "civil" ceremony is said to be taking place at the same time as the religious ceremony. Often this involves simply signing a register during the religious ceremony. If the civil element of the religious ceremony is omitted, the marriage is not recognised by government under the law.

While some countries, such as Australia, permit marriages to be held in private and at any location, others, including England and Wales, require that the civil ceremony be conducted in a place open to the public and specially sanctioned by law. In England, the place of marriage need no longer be a church or register office, but could also be a hotel, historic building or other venue that has obtained the necessary licence. An exception can be made in the case of marriage by special emergency license, which is normally granted only when one of the parties is terminally ill. Rules about where and when persons can marry vary from place to place. Some regulations require that one of the parties reside in the locality of the registry office.

Within the parameters set by the law of the jurisdiction in which a marriage or wedding takes place, each religious authority has rules for the manner in which weddings are to be conducted by their officials and members.

History Edit

Although the institution of marriage pre-dates reliable recorded history, many cultures have legends concerning the origins of marriage. The way in which a marriage is conducted has changed over time, as has the institution itself.

One of the oldest known and recorded marriage laws is discerned from Hammurabi's Code, enacted in ancient Mesopotamia (widely considered as the cradle of civilization). The legal institution of marriage and its rules and ramifications have changed over time depending on the culture or demographic of the time.[9]

Various cultures have had their own theories on the origin of marriage. One example may lie in a man's need for assurance as to paternity of his children. He might therefore be willing to pay a bride price or provide for a woman in exchange for exclusive sexual access.[10] Legitimacy is the consequence of this transaction rather than its motivation. In Comanche society, married women work harder, lose sexual freedom, and do not seem to obtain any benefit from marriage.[11] But nubile women are a source of jealousy and strife in the tribe, so they are given little choice other than to get married. "In almost all societies, access to women is institutionalized in some way so as to moderate the intensity of this competition."[12] In English common law, a marriage was a voluntary contract by a man and a woman, where by agreement they choose to become husband and wife.[13] Edvard Westermarck proposed that "the institution of marriage has probably developed out of a primeval habit".[14]

European marriages Edit

For most of European history, marriage was more or less a business agreement between two families who arranged the marriages of their children. Romantic love, and even simple affection, were not considered essential.[15] Historically, the perceived necessity of marriage has been stressed.[16]

In Ancient Greece, no specific civil ceremony was required for the creation of a marriage - only mutual agreement and the fact that the couple must regard each other as husband and wife accordingly.[17] Men usually married when they were in their 20s or 30s [18] and expected their wives to be in their early teens. It has been suggested that these ages made sense for the Greek because men were generally done with military service by age 30, and marrying a young girl ensured her virginity.[19] Married Greek women had few rights in ancient Greek society and were expected to take care of the house and children.[20] Time was an important factor in Greek marriage. For example, there were superstitions that being married during a full moon was good luck and, according to Robert Flacelière, Greeks married in the winter.[19] Inheritance was more important than feelings: A woman whose father dies without male heirs can be forced to marry her nearest male relative—even if she has to divorce her husband first.[21]

Like with the Greeks, Roman marriage and divorce required no specific government or religious approval.[16] Both marriage and divorce could happen by simple mutual agreement.[16] There were several types of marriages in Roman society. The traditional ("conventional") form called conventio in manum required a ceremony with witnesses and was also dissolved with a ceremony.[16] In this type of marriage, a woman lost her family rights of inheritance of her old family and gained them with her new one. She now was subject to the authority of her husband.[22] There was the free marriage known as sine manu. In this arrangement, the wife remained a member of her original family; she stayed under the authority of her father, kept her family rights of inheritance with her old family and did not gain any with the new family.[22] A law in the Theodosian Code (C. Th. 9.7.3) issued in 342 CE prohibited same-sex marriage, but the exact intent of the law and its relation to social practice is unclear, as only a few documented examples of same-sex marriage in ancient Rome exist.[23]

File:Brauysegen im Bett.gif
From the early Christian era (30 to 325 CE), marriage was thought of as primarily a private matter,[citation needed] with no uniform religious or other ceremony being required. However, bishop Ignatius of Antioch writing around 110 to bishop Polycarp of Smyrna exhorts, "[I]t becomes both men and women who marry, to form their union with the approval of the bishop, that their marriage may be according to God, and not after their own lust."[1]

Marriage in sixth-century Europe has been characterized as political polygamy. The Germanic warlord Clothar, despite being a baptized Christian, eventually acquired four wives for strategic reasons, including his dead brother's wife, her sister and the daughter of a captured foreign king.[15]

In the twelfth century, aristocrats believed love was incompatible with marriage and sought romance in adultery.[15] Troubadors invented courtly love which involved secret but chaste trysts between a lover and a beloved.

In fourteenth-century Europe, ordinary people could no longer choose whom to marry. The lord of one Black Forest manor decreed in 1344 that all his unmarried tenants—including widows and widowers—marry spouses of his choosing. Elsewhere, peasants wishing to pick a partner had to pay a fee.[15]

With few local exceptions, until 1545, Christian marriages in Europe were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the parties.[24][25] The couple would promise verbally to each other that they would be married to each other; the presence of a priest or witnesses was not required.[26] This promise was known as the "verbum." If freely given and made in the present tense (e.g., "I marry you"), it was unquestionably binding;[24] if made in the future tense ("I will marry you"), it would constitute a betrothal. One of the functions of churches from the Middle Ages was to register marriages, which was not obligatory. There was no state involvement in marriage and personal status, with these issues being adjudicated in ecclesiastical courts.

The average age of marriage in the late 1200s into the 1500s was around 25 years of age.[27] Beginning in the 1500s it was unlawful for a woman younger than 20 years of age to marry.[25][28]

As part of the Counter-Reformation, in 1563 the Council of Trent decreed that a Roman Catholic marriage would be recognized only if the marriage ceremony was officiated by a priest with two witnesses. The Council also authorized a Catechism, issued in 1566, which defined marriage as, "The conjugal union of man and woman, contracted between two qualified persons, which obliges them to live together throughout life."[29]

In England, under the Anglican Church, marriage by consent and cohabitation was valid until the passage of Lord Hardwicke's Act in 1753. This act instituted certain requirements for marriage, including the performance of a religious ceremony observed by witnesses.[30]

As part of the Reformation, the role of recording marriages and setting the rules for marriage passed to the state. By the 1600s many of the Protestant European countries had a state involvement in marriage. As of 2000, the average marriage age range was 25–44 years for men and 22–39 years for women.

Recognition by the state Edit

In the early modern period, John Calvin and his Protestant colleagues reformulated Christian marriage by enacting the Marriage Ordinance of Geneva, which imposed "The dual requirements of state registration and church consecration to constitute marriage"[29] for recognition.

In England and Wales, Lord Hardwicke's Marriage Act 1753 required a formal ceremony of marriage, thereby curtailing the practice of Fleet Marriage.[31] These were clandestine or irregular marriages performed at Fleet Prison, and at hundreds of other places. From the 1690s until the Marriage Act of 1753 as many as 300,000 clandestine marriages were performed at Fleet Prison alone.[32] The Act required a marriage ceremony to be officiated by an Anglican priest in the Anglican Church with two witnesses and registration. The Act did not apply to Jewish marriages or those of Quakers, whose marriages continued to be governed by their own customs.

In England and Wales, since 1837, civil marriages have been recognised as a legal alternative to church marriages under the Marriage Act of 1836. In Germany, civil marriages were recognised in 1875. This law permitted a declaration of the marriage before an official clerk of the civil administration, when both spouses affirm their will to marry, to constitute a legally recognised valid and effective marriage, and allowed an optional private clerical marriage ceremony.

Chinese marriage Edit

Main article: Chinese marriage

The mythological origin of Chinese marriage is a story about Nüwa and Fu Xi who invented proper marriage procedures after becoming married.

In ancient Chinese society, people of the same surname were not supposed to marry and doing so was seen as incest. However, because marriage to one's maternal relatives was not thought of as incest, families sometimes intermarried from one generation to another. Over time, Chinese people became more geographically mobile. Individuals remained members of their biological families. When a couple died, the husband and the wife were buried separately in the respective clans’ graveyard. In a maternal marriage, a male would become a son-in-law who lived in the wife’s home.



See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Bell, Duran (1997). Defining Marriage and Legitimacy 38 (2): 237–254. Bell describes marriage as "a relationship between one or more men (male or female) in severalty to one or more women that provides those men with a demand-right of sexual access within a domestic group and identifies women who bear the obligation of yielding to the demands of those specific men."
  2. Westermarck, Edvard, (1921) The History of Human Marriage Volume 1, p. 71. ISBN 0766146189.
  3. Westermarck, Edvard, (1936) The Future of Marriage in Western Civilization, p. 3.
  4. (1951) Notes and Queries on Anthropology, Royal Anthropological Institute.
  5. {{{author}}}, The Nayars and the Definition of Marriage, [[{{{publisher}}}|{{{publisher}}}]], [[{{{date}}}|{{{date}}}]]. Nuer female-female marriage is done to keep property within a family that has no sons. It is not a form of lesbianism.
  6. Gudeman, Stephen, (1976) Relationships, residence and the individual, p. 131.
  7. Leach, Edmund (1955). "Polyandry, Inheritance and the Definition of Marriage" (PDF). Man. .
  8. Turkish Civil and Penal Code Reforms from a Gender Perspective: The Success of two Nationwide CampaignsPDF (6.21 MB) (p. 18)
  9. Hobhouse, Leonard Trelawny (1906) Morals in evolution: a study in comparative ethics (Page 180)
  10. Hanlon & White, p. 120.
  11. Hanlon & White, p. 119.
  12. Hanlon & White, p. 116.
  13. http://topics.law.cornell.edu/wex/Marriage
  14. Westermarck, Edward Alexander (1903). The History of Human Marriage, Macmillan and Co., Ltd., London.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 psychology today on the history of marriage
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Magnus Hirschfeld Archive of Sexology
  17. history for kids Greek Marriage
  18. historylink102.com Ancient Greek Marriage
  19. 19.0 19.1 richeast.org Greek Marriage
  20. Greek Marriage from ancienthistory.about.com
  21. "Marriage, a History." Psychology Today, May 01, 2005
  22. 22.0 22.1 roman empire.net marriage
  23. Kuefler, Mathew. "The Marriage Revolution in Late Antiquity: The Theodosian Code and Later Roman Marriage Law," Journal of Family History, 32, 343–370. Online http://jfh.sagepub.com/cgi/content/short/32/4/343
  24. 24.0 24.1 upenn.edu Excerpt from Marriage, Sex, and Civic Culture in Late Medieval London "the sacramental bond of marriage could be made only through the freely given consent of both parties"
  25. 25.0 25.1 marriage.about.com
  26. ExploreGenealogy.co.uk Marriage Records
  27. Schofield, Phillipp R. 2003. Peasant and community in Medieval England, 1200-1500. Medieval culture and society. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan. p 98.
  28. Spitz, Lewis (1987). (The Rise of modern Europe) The protestant Reformation 1517-1559., Harper Torchbooks.
  29. 29.0 29.1 Witte Jr., John (1997). From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition, 39–40, Westminster John Knox Press.
  30. West's Encyclopedia of American Law, 2nd Edition. Thomson Gale, 2005. ISBN 0-7876-6367-0
  31. Leneman, Leah (1999). The Scottish Case That Led to Hardwicke's Marriage Act. Law and History Review.
  32. Gillis, John R. (1985). For Better, for Worse: British Marriages, 1600 to the Present, Oxford University Press.
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