How has the marriage tradition evolved over time?

nga Flogerta Driza

How has the marriage tradition evolved over time? Just how society, science, or medicine evolves, so do human relationships over time. One of the most important elements of human relationships is marriage.

This is a tradition as old as time. Over time, however, this relationship between a couple has changed drastically from what we see today. Let us go back in time to the present day to see how the marriage tradition has evolved:

The marriage tradition in the cradle

the marriage traditionAccording to legends passed down from generation to generation, marriages in the cradle began to be implemented long before the era of Gjergj Kastriot Skenderbeu. So, two children got married at the age of 1, 2 or 3. All that was requested was the agreement between the two fathers. That was more than enough.

But how did such a marriage take place, and what conditions were required?

In most cases, when a child was born, family friends would visit to express their congratulations. Since the friendship between the fathers was a strong one, in a quite spontaneous conversation would probably arise the proposal to marry their children with one another. Often the word given, ‘besa’, was not broken and respected until the children grew up.

femrat shqiptareThe accompanying terms were: occupation, matchmaker, cover, possession. The girl was called busy (occupied, betrothed), under oath, covered, while the boy (busy) was betrothed, promised.

It often happened that the children did not know about their marriage in the cradle until late when it came time to get engaged. In some provinces, small ceremonies were held. When children of the opposite sex were born, rifle shots were fired to announce that the two families had become friends via marriage. To legitimize this, “bread was also exchanged”, and parties were organized by both families.

Marriage via matchmaking 

mbleseriAnother type of marriage, which was not only implemented in the north but also in the whole of Albania and Kosovo, was and still is that via a matchmaker or a go-getter. In Kosovo it is known as “me msit”. The goer is also called ‘Msiti’, this is a really old Albanian word as old as the matchmaking tradition itself.

The person who would mediate between the girl’s parents and the boy’s parents was called ‘msit’ or today ‘shkuesi’. Which comes from its meaning – the person who enters the middle. To perform this type of marriage, it was enough, even in this case, that the men of the families agreed between them.

Unlike the marriage in the cradle, in this case a “msit” was needed. He could have been a close family friend who would speak well of the boy at the moment when the girl’s hand was sought. But that was not the only thing the “shkues” was responsible for, he had other duties as well. If the father of the girl’s family agreed then, the “shues” was the the person responsible for not breaking the trust of any of the families promises, until the marriage took place.

Even today, matchmaking is practiced, but it is more liberal. This is because if the couple does not agree after their first meeting, it can happen that the friendship between the parties breaks down without hatred or ill intentions. 

Love marriages 

the marriage traditionThis term was added later. However, in the past when it was said that the couple was married because they loved each other, it was called something rare or even unheard of. Since most marriages and relationships between couples took place in agreement with families as intermediaries, love marriages were seen as taboo.

Love marriage was often accompanied in the past by kidnapping the girl in cases when her parents did not agree. If such a thing happened, the family completely denied the girl as their daughter, and this was then accompanied by social isolation of the couple itself. When the couple was excluded from the social network, their only choice was to leave the city.

Love marriages nowadays are certainly more frequent than those with a “shkues” or marriages in the cradle. The latter is almost disappeared as a phenomenon. Now, if a couple are not in love with each other they do not even try to enter a relationship or engagement. 

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