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Harvest Time Celebration of Romance

  • The vogue of medieval chivalric romance ... (by )
  • Sadie Shapiro, Matchmaker (by )
  • Matchmaking Father (by )
  • Perfect Girl Evolution 16 : Matchmaking ... Volume No. 16 (by )
  • Perfect Girl Evolution 17 : Matchmaking ... Volume No. 17 (by )
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September brings a change of seasons, summer to fall with the plentitude of the annual harvest sparking optimism, celebration, and romance. Harvest time presents the perfect opportunity to celebrate the union of families with extravagant feasts. Before the wedding and attendant revelry, however, the bride and groom must agree to marry. Thus arose matchmaking, the process that brings eligible men and women together for the good of their families and communities.

Many ancient cultures relied upon traditional matchmakers to start the revelry. Family elders arranged unions between their marriageable offspring to unite social and political influence and merge wealth. They did not consider romantic love, which they relegated to folklore and chivalric legend as nice to have, but hardly necessary for a successful marriage.

Traditional matchmakers, oftentimes the village priest or rabbi or other trusted official who knew the people in the community, recognized that compatibility made for happier marriages and, therefore, often bent their efforts to pleasing both the families and the young people being matched. The novel Sadie Shapiro, Matchmaker (1979) by Robert Kimmel Smith relates the entertaining interference of just such a person in New York’s Jewish community.

Arranged marriages feature in today’s popular literature, particularly in the subgenre of mail-order bride romance. Particularly in western frontier of the United States in the 1800s, rough, overwhelmingly masculine communities of settlers, miners, loggers, and ranchers advertised for wives back East or selected potential wives from catalogs of women seeking husbands. Offering the respectability of marriage and fare for travel by stagecoach (or later the train), unmarried or widowed men lured unmarried or widowed women in an effort to populate the West.
The mail-order bride scenario continues today with online catalogs of women seeking advantageous marriage being selected and “ordered” by their potential husbands. Today, such women overwhelmingly hail from Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union, and Latin America. The dark side of the mail-order bride practice involves human trafficking in which hopeful women are sold into sexual slavery. In order to combat the abuse of native women, the Philippines congress ratified the easily circumvented Republic Act 6955 in 1990, prohibiting arranged marriages between Filipinas and foreign men.

Even while encouraging young adults to form emotional attachments rather than submit to strictly businesslike arrangements for power, influence, and wealth, societies managed introductions among eligible men and women through chaperoned social events. Parents and guardians introduced unmarried young ladies to suitable bachelors and widowers with the hope--not requirement--of compatibility as well as financial security. A woman’s future depended almost entirely upon her husband’s ability to provide for her. 

The ups and downs of parental matchmaking often made for entertainment, as illustrated by Matchmaking Father: Or The Bashful Suitor (1892), a farce by Jason W. Shettel and in Japanese manga Perfect Girl Evolution issues 16 and 17 by Tomoko Hayakawa.
Today matchmakers continue to hold an important role in the never-ending quest to find a mate. Arranged marriages and managed introductions remain popular in many countries. In India, parents place personal advertisements to promote their adult children to prospective spouses. Consider online matchmaking and dating services such as Master Matchmakers, It’s Just Lunch!, Events and Adventures,, Lifemates, Selective Search, Successful Singles, Elite Matchmaking, and All About Singles. 

However, two communities celebrate the harvest time attitude the old-fashioned way with professional matchmakers and personal introductions. 

The small town of Lisdoornvarna, Ireland draws tens of thousands of visitors every September with its Matchmaking Festival. For a solid month, men and women seeking lifelong partners gather in the town to dance, drink, and heed the advice of a matchmaker.

In downtown Shanghai, China, nearly 25 percent of adults are unmarried, a social tragedy attributed to a population skewed to favor sons over daughters. To help the glut of men find wives, the city has created a huge matchmaking event in the suburb of Thames Town.

By Karen M. Smith

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