straight to the heart

Every couple years, groups of my friends get married, which is far more of an adventure for them than me.

My adventure is limited to the little things -- driving to Sudbury from Niagara in really shitty weather, then climbing to see the Big Nickel and crying when my friend started down the aisle in her gorgeous strapless white dress. Or wearing a sari for the first time in celebration of a friend's Hindu-Catholic nuptials. Encountering one friend's mother, who has hated me since I was a pre-teen, at his wedding reception.

I've never been a bridesmaid -- which is probably best for everyone, because I think I'm the most likely person in the world to whine about being "always a bridesmaid, never a bride." Not that I want to be a bride, but I'm prone to extreme bouts of melodrama.

Anyway, one of my dearest couple-friends just got engaged. The future groom was incredibly imaginative, and the future bride was pretty eager to say yes. They'll go out and get her ring this week. I'm not writing this to infringe on their privacy; a line in the book I'm reading got me thinking about the story behind engagement rings.

Set in the 800s, Europe's darkest age, I learned that the wedding ring, at least, traditionally sits on the fourth finger of one's left hand because it was believed that is where the vein leading directly to the heart is.

Clearly, the idea of marriage during the Dark Ages sucked -- for example, a wedding ceremony in the book includes these vows:

"May this woman be amiable as Rachel, faithful as Sarah, fertile as Leah. May she bring forth many sons and bring honor to her husband's house.... Let her copy the behavior of a dog who always has his heart and his eye upon his master; even if his master whip him and throw stones at him, the dog follows, wagging his tail.... A woman should have a perfect and indestructible love for her husband." (p. 129)

But I would have to argue the romanticism of that engagement ring is pretty sweet, and so fascinating.

(By the way, the groom's equivalent vow was: "May this man be brave as David, wise as Solomon, strong as Samson. May his lands increase even as his fortune. May he be a just lord to this lady, never administering to her more than reasonable punishments. May he live to see his sons do honour to his name.")

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