It is customary for a newlywed couple to embark on a romantic vacation to celebrate their marriage. This is known as a honeymoon. The word originates from the Scandinavian region – the home of the Vikings. The Vikings had a tradition (as did many other European cultures) where a newlywed couple would drink meadfor a whole month. The reason being, it was believed that mead was good for stamina and would facilitate fertilisation. Ergo, the honeymoon’s original purpose was to provide a time for the couple to make a child. Ironically, alcohol has the effect of inhibiting not only the cerebral cortex (causing sexual disinhibition), but also testosterone, leading to erectile dysfunction. Thus, drinking like the Vikings on your honeymoon would be very counterintuitive if you are thinking of making a child (or just love). Furthermore, it may endanger your marriage right from the start.
Whatever the origin of the word, a honeymoon is indubitably the sweetest time for a couple as they celebrate their promise for eternal love and look forward to a future they will build together. Perhaps the true meaning of “honeymoon” is a metaphor for the sweetness of a newly developing romance.
During the Tang Dynasty, there was a man named Wigo. He wanted to find a partner but no suitable girl showed up, so he decided to travel instead. One day, he came across a strange old man. In fact, the old man was Wolha-noin, a man who could tie a sacred bond between a man and a woman with a red string. Wigo, already desperate, begged the old man to tell him who his future spouse was. The old man, simply pointed to the three year-old daughter of a poor vegetable store owner. Wigo was furious and he told his subordinate to kill the child, but luckily she survived with only a scar between her eyebrows.
14 years later, Wigo finally married a beautiful, nubile wife. However, Wigo’s wife never appeared to show her forehead. Wigo found this strange and asked his wife: “Dear, why do you always hide your forehead?”. His wife replied: “When I was three years old, I was hit by a knife which left a scar between my eyebrows”. Wigo realised that his wife was the child from the past and begged for her forgiveness. The two, as predicted by Wolha-noin, lived happily ever after as man and wife.
According to this legend, we are all born with a red string tied to our little finger. This red string is tied on the other end to the little finger of your true love, with every person in the world having a destined partner. It is said that if two people who are linked with the red string meet, they will fall head over heels for each other and eventually marry.
The legend of the red string is, in some ways, half mythical and half true. Of course it is impossible to follow some string to your true love (how good would that be?), but whatever people say, there is somebody out there for you to love and be loved by. However, unlike the legend of the red string, you do not have just one person you are destined to wed. If we were truly born with one destined partner, then what guarantee is there that they would be born or live in the same place as you, let alone the same time period as you? If this is true, then it would be statistically improbable for a “happy couple” to form. But look around you. Happy couples are everywhere. This tells us that we are not bound to love only one person. Yes, the “red string” is not a single predestined bond, but a symbol of someone who is just right for you. “The One” is simply someone who is right for you, someone who lives in the same time and place as you, someone that makes you happy and someone you want to make happy. Whether there is one, ten or a hundred of these people depends on your preferences and your heart. So never lose hope and believe that you will be forever alone. Somewhere, “The One” who fits the empty spots of your heart like a puzzle piece is looking for you too.
Love is not a single strand of red string, but a network of countless strings crossing each other. When the string of the person that perfectly complements you crosses your string, you must make a decision. Will you continue onwards in the same direction as before? Or will you make all the effort to bend your string so that you can travel with your true love, side-by-side? If you two are truly meant to be, only then will a real red string form between your hearts. As the two lovers get to know each other and spend time with each other, the line shortens and shortens until someday, the two become one.
The practice of wearing jewellery to signify the sacred bonds of marriage dates back to ancient Egypt, where chains and bracelets were worn. This eventually evolved into wearing a ring, where the circle symbolised endless love while the open centre represented the doorway to an unknown future. This practice spread to the ancient Greeks, then the ancient Romans, where it became a commonplace tradition around the 2nd century. The Romans called the wedding ring annulus pronubis and it was tradition for a man to give a ring to a woman at the betrothal ceremony to symbolise his eternal devotion.
A wedding ring is most often worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, so-called the “ring finger”. It is uncertain when this tradition arose, as various cultures chose different fingers on different hands for the wedding ring. One theory suggests that the tradition arose from the ancient Romans believing that the fourth finger contained a vein called the vena amoris – a vein that connects directly from the finger to the heart. As the heart is a symbol of love, placing a ring on this finger symbolised eternal love. However, this is a false belief for two reasons. Firstly, every vein, by definition, returns to the heart. Thus, it makes no sense that the fourth finger is special. Secondly, there is no such thing as the vena amoris, with all the veins in each finger having an identical structure (common palmar digital veins). As the circulatory system was not known during ancient times, it is likely that this story is a myth that arose sometime after the Middle Ages when a romantic story was matched with the tradition. It is also likely that jewellery companies marketed such a story to promote wedding ring sales (much like the marketing of the diamond engagement rings).
When is the right time to get married? According to Professor Tony Dooley, you can use an equation to find the right age for proposing. To do this, take “the youngest age you want to marry” and minus it from “the oldest age you want to marry” then times 0.368. Add this number to the youngest age. For example, if you would consider getting married from age 21 onwards and at the latest 30, your ideal age to marry is: (30 – 21) x 0.368 = 3.312 + 21 = 24.312, thus about 24 years and 4 months old.
This equation is very practical as it is a modified version of equations used in financial and medical fields. This equation is used to maximise profit while minimising loss using mathematics. It may not sound romantic, but according to Professor Dooley, after you reach the calculated age you should not waste time and ask the hand of the next person you date in marriage.