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    History and traditions of dating

    At a festival honoring Juno, 5th century Roman soldiers would draw names of eligible women to see who would be their lucky bedmate for the year.Once chosen, the man would wear her name on his sleeve for the festival.When Artie confronts his fading love, he says, “I s’pose the other boy’s fillin’ all my dates?” But when these single women, stripped from their dependency on fathers and husbands, began to be courted in public, police, politicians, and civic leaders were alarmed.Courtship traditions have existed as long as cultures have accepted the concept of romantic love (though many believe they're mostly a Western thing).Some traditions, including those of ancient Chinese and Jewish societies, took on a more contractual approach to courtship, dictating that marriage be a matter of negotiation between two families.Looking back, I realize my naivety was shining like a lighthouse beacon.

    We no longer needed the approval of our dads and the days of being chaperoned while on a date were firmly rooted in the history books.The word “date” was coined — inadvertently, it seems — by George Ade, a columnist for the Chicago Record, in 1896.In a column about “working class lives,” he told of a clerk named Artie whose girlfriend was losing interest in him and beginning to see other men socially.According to “Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a sprawling new history by Moira Weigel, the first female daters faced exactly that — mistaken, in their quest for love, for prostitutes.As with concepts like the “teenager” and “middle-class,” dating is an historically recent invention, spurred by an influx of women into the big cities seeking work around the turn of the 20th Century.

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