B bábi, Tibor

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Betrothal (Eljegyzés, Kézfogó) – An archaic term signifying the assertion of a marriage promise, involving exchange of a token gift and holding hands. From that moment on the couple was called “affianced” (jegyesek). The girl was known as a fiancée and the man as a groom. Conditions of an engagement were spelled out in a financial agreement about the dowry and trousseau. Customarily it was prepared when the groom asked for the girl’s hand in marriage and the important details were set down in writing (móringos levél). The engagement ceremony took place at the girl’s home in front of the parents, witnesses and relatives on both sides, as well as the best man, who was the master of ceremony. During the ceremony the young couple declared their desire to marry, exchanged gifts and held hands. It was customary for the betrothed girl to give her groom a red kerchief that he wore on festive occasions visibly displayed on his garments. In the old days the groom gave the girl a knife and some coins besides the engagement ring. Custom demanded that in order to assure the success of the marriage the ring had to remain on her finger for nine days. A festive banquet of the two families was an essential part of the engagement ceremony. Formal engagement was a fundamental part of any marriage in medieval Hungary; but its significance became only symbolic from the 19th century on. – B: 1134, 1020, T: 3233.

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