According to Greek mythology, the first humans were conjoined. They were completely self-sufficient and lived utopian lives. This greatly displeased the Gods, who conspired to partthem withbright flashes of lightening. Ever since, men and women have been separated, eternally in search of their soulmate or their ‘better half’.
Todaywe can find love from the comforts of our homes with a click of a button. However, it was not always this easy. In a time where transport was inaccessible and the internet non-existent, people were forced to resort to slightly bizarre methods to meet that ‘special someone’.
Courtship was the upper classVictorianequivalent of modern-day dating. It was the precursor to marriage and helped negotiate therocky road from mere physical attraction to lasting love. In 19th century England, eligible youth would meet at chaperoned social events. As Disney movies and Jane Austen novels have taught us, dancing wasalmost always involved. Interested gentlemen would attempt to woo women with small tokens of affection, ultimately proposingmarriage on bended knee.
In neighbouring Finland, knives played the part of Cinderella’s glass slipper and broughtcouples together. Prospective suitors would place a knife in an empty sheath on the girdle of the girl. If the girl kept the knife, it was a sign of acceptance.
Across the seven seas, the scenario was quite different. According toancient Chinese mythology, Yue Lao (literally, the old man in the moon) would tie an invisible red string around the ankles of those destined to be together. Once this was done, the fates were sealed and they would unite despite being strangers or archenemies. Modern-dayChinese matchmakersare self-proclaimed ‘love gurus’who have extensive knowledge of the interests and temperaments of the duo.
In the remote regions of Ghana, whole villages played Cupid and the story often took a more violent twist. Marriages were made by capture, not choice and warriorsfrequently raided villages for wives. Every so often, the men would evenresort to magic, trying to enslave their beloved.
The advent of the internet propelled ametamorphosisin the way matches were made. Nevertheless, from buying a woman dinner to opening a door for her, many of today’s acts of chivalry live on from medieval times.To this day,people are willing to goextraordinary lengthsjust to livehappily ever after.