September 2, 2013

Author's Notes: What is the Difference Between Dating and Courting?


Geza Udvary, "Courting",date unknown, 
courtesy of Wiki Commons,
public domain
 
In my book The Secret Society of Sugar and Spice there is a scene near the end of the book where the hero, Jack Robbins, says to Mace, the heroine: "I will speak to your father and ask him for permission to court his daughter.  Then I am going to court you right and proper."

But what does it mean to court?  Is it the same thing as dating?  No.  Essentially, the difference is that dating is recreational (for fun) and courting is intentional (for marriage).  In other words, in courting, the couple enters into the relationship with the explicit understanding that marriage is the endgame.

In the nineteenth century, courtship was supposed to have no physical contact or sexual activity.  But here's the surprising bit: A study comparing late nineteenth century marriage records to birth records showed that 30 - 40% of brides were pregnant on the day of their wedding here in America.  We think of the Victorian era (1837-1901) as an age of prudery, chastity and innocence. We thought wrong.


References and additional reading:
http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/uscourt.cfm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtship
http://theweek.com/article/index/246490/5-courtship-rituals-from-colonial-America

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