Sunday, August 14, 2005
All About Engagement!
Engagement; from the French se fiancer, to become engaged.

An engagement is a promise of commitment. A symbol of agreement by a couple that they plan enter into marriage at some time in the future. There is no set length of an engagement and it is usually accompanied by a formal or informal announcement to friends and family, with perhaps a celebratory party or gathering being held.

The male is called the fiancé and a female is called a fiancée though there is only a slight difference in the pronunciation. Following the agreement, the couple are said to be "engaged to be married," or simply "engaged." Though originally it was a tabloid usage – during the 1990s fiancé/fiancée was sometimes used as euphemism for a live-in lover. Or, in France, a mere boyfriend or girlfriend even where they did not live together and marriage has not been considered (largely replacing the somewhat sociological "significant other") In Spanish the usual words for "boyfriend" or "girlfriend", novio or novia, also mean "fiancé" or "fiancée."

Some describe engagement as the modern successor to the act and state of betrothal (an "exchange of vows [troth]" to be married), the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, and would be often understood as interchangeable, today. However Betrothal is a formal state of engagement. Historically it was a contract, which would be blessed or officiated by a religious authority. Betrothal is no longer common beyond some Arab cultures and is today more commonly referred to as "arranged marriages" where the parents of a bride and groom would match their children up with a suitable partner. Often at a very young age. Sometimes they would meet to see how they got along but other times their first meeting would be on the day they wed.

In contemporary Western culture, it is quite common (in fact, in some areas, far more common than not) for couples to spend a considerable period of engagement, often living together, possibly without setting a date for their marriage.

Long-distance engagements occur where a couple is engaged with the intention of eventual marriage. At which time one of them relocates to be with the other. This is a necessity for couples living in different countries as immigration laws often require local residency for citizenship and naturalization. For example an American man meets a woman from Russia and proposes marriage. In order for her to join him in the United States, she must become his fiancée: [1] and be granted a K-1 Visa before she can enter the US border. This law is sometimes abused by people trying to gain access to a country they wish to come to and there are indeed website where you can sign up to marry someone from countries such as Sweden, Russia, Thailand.

Engagement Rings
Engagements rings are to be worn on the third finger of the left hand. This tradition is thought to be from the Romans, who believed this finger to be the "vena amoris" (vein of love) The vein that leads to the heart. Romantic rings found were found in this era (from as far back as 4AD) which resembled the Claddagh Celtic symbol (two hands holding a loveheart) and so it is thought that this was used as some symbol of love and commitment between a man and a woman.

However there is a lot of speculation about the origins of the engagement ring, see the link below for more information on the history of Engagement rings. It is also theorized that the rings could have evolved from slave rings and shackles made to tie the mates of cavemen up.

But the concept of an engagement period began in 1215 at the Fourth Lateran Council, when Pope Innocent III declared a longer waiting period between betrothal and marriage. The modern Western form of the practice of giving or exchanging engagement rings began in 1477 when Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor gave Mary of Burgundy a diamond ring as an engagement present.
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