Colonial Valentines…’s Valentine’s Day and so I thought I’d tell you a bit more about the falling-in-love traditions of the Puritans of 1775 Lexington and Concord.  (Here’s the link to the earlier article on Puritan Weddings.)

In some cultures, even in the 18th Century, arranged marriages were the norm.  Parents selected the spouse for their child and the bride and groom had little input in the matter.  Sometimes it was about position.  Sometimes it was about land.  Sometimes it was about who would pay the most to wed the bride.  Very romantic.

But the Puritans believed in marrying for love.  They had elaborate courting rituals that resemble some that the Amish still practice today.  (Note:  the Puritans are not the Amish and the Amish are not Puritans)

Once the “kids” had reached the courting point in the relationship, it was up to the parents to supervise while still making sure that the kids had enough privacy to get to know each other and to have an opportunity to find out if love was in the mix.   The practice of bundling was quite common.   This was the practice of the two people spending the night in bed together with a board between them.  Ideally, this practice would allow them to build one type of intimacy but would preclude physical intimacy.

The Puritans did not believe in sex outside of marriage.  But one detail I found interesting is that the “engagement” or “coming out” ceremony was the line in the sand.  It was not unusual at all for the bride to be pregnant when the actual marriage contract was signed.   But pregnancy outside of the engagement was looked upon badly.

The normal age for marriage surprised me as well.  Most of the “kids” got married in the early to mid-twenties.  The groom would want to have established some way of supporting his soon coming family.  The vast majority of young people did marry.  It was unusual for someone to remain single.

So, marrying for love.  I like that.