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Matrimonial Minutiae

  • The Brahmans of southern India have traditionally prohibited a younger brother from marrying before an elder brother. So when a suitable bride can’t be found for the senior sibling, he may be ceremonially married to a tree, leaving the younger brother free to take a wife. Sometimes the two marriages take place at the same time in the hopes that any bad luck that might befall the happy human newlyweds would be diverted to the tree.
  • An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her,” said mystery author Agatha Christie, who was married to one
  • An average of 13,500 Americans get married every day.
  • Instead of exchanging rings with the groom, in old Anglo-Saxon wedding ceremonies the bride passed her shoes to her groom, who then tapped her on the head with one of them.
  • Abigail Van Buren says at the top of her list of the ten most common problems she sees in “Dear Abby” letters is: “My wife doesn’t understand me.”
  • In colonial days, A Boston sea captain named Kemble was sentenced to spend two hours in the stocks for kissing his wife in public on Sunday, the day he returned from three years at sea.
  • An old Kentucky law states that a wife can’t move the furniture in the house without her husband’s permission. But then a man in Kentucky has restrictions too: he can’t legally marry his wife’s grandmother.
  • Every day, 175 Americans aged 65 and older get married (eight of them for the first time).
  • A kiss can last no longer than one second, according to an ordinance in Halethorpe, Maryland.
  • The most married person in history was probably King Mongut of Siam, the monarch in “The King and I.” He had 9,000 wives and concubines.
  • New Hampshire has the youngest legal marriage age: 13 for females, 14 for males.
  • The following 11 people never married: Jane Addams; Susan B. Anthony; Ludwig van Beethoven; President James Buchanan; Frederic Chopin; Emily Dickinson; J. Edgar Hoover; Joan of Arc; Issac Newton; Florence Nightingale; Henry David Thoreau.
  • One of “Dear Abby’s” most unusual letters came from one wife who evidently didn’t understand her husband. The letter said, “My husband burns the hair out of his nose with a lighted match. And he thinks I’m crazy because I voted for Goldwater.”
  • An Austrian anthropologist named Weizl who lived for a time among the natives of northern Siberia was frequently accosted by giggling young maidens who showed up at his door and pelted him with freshly killed lice. Eventually Weizl learned that among northern Siberians, lice-throwing was a customary manner for a woman to declare her interest in a man and indicate that she was available for marriage.
  • Evidently politics does make strange bedfellows. Ann Landers claims that one of her most unusual problems from readers concerned a man who hid his wife’s dentures so she couldn’t go out and vote for a Democrat.
  • In ancient Greece, the wedding cake of choice was almost always cheesecake doused with honey.
  • The custom in ancient Rome was to break the wedding cake over the head of the bride. And only those children of women who abided by this custom were legally eligible to hold high government office.
  • Fewer Americans are married in January then in any other month.

Miller Clarke, “Matrimonial Minutiae, Partnership, January-February, 1988

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