Dating engagement and marriage customs from the 16th century
Despite its possible benefits and in part because of its definite weirdness, bundling fell out of fashion at the turn of the 19th century. Victorian sensibilities disapproved of premarital bed-sharing for couples, bedrooms became more private spaces, and better heating erased the need for body warmth. Since its birth in ancient Egypt, the tradition of exchanging rings has been perpetuated through time and evolved across countries and epochs.From the Middle Ages to the 16th century, the wedding band was worn on the right hand, sometimes even on the thumb.In the 19th century, Henry Reed Stiles writes in his history of Connecticut that bundling “sapped the fountain of morality and tarnished the escutcheons of thousands of families,” though in Holland, where a similar practice was called “queesting”, it was hardly ever abused.Contemporary preacher Jonathan Edwards outwardly spoke against bundling as a risky practice teetering on the edge of dangerous promiscuity, writing that this seemingly new sexual awakening of common people would “ruin a person’s reputation and be looked upon as sufficient evidences of a prostitute” had it happened in any other country; he also worried about pregnancies preceding wedlock.
Historian Lucy Worsley points out that bundling “was a step along the way towards your spouse being a matter of personal choice rather than someone picked out for you by your parents.” Bundling meant that the virtues of the young couple were maintained, but they could experiment with one another, talk late into the night, and learn what it would be like to spend hours with just one person, waking up next to them in the morning. probably don’t mourn the loss, preferring to find their true loves sans bag and board—but for those of you who wish to get back to the good old days of dating, you could always give this style of authentic courtship a try.
When two teens were interested in one another, if both sets of parents approved, the girl’s parents invited the boy to the home, often on Saturday nights, and bundling process began.
The bundling bag, a readily available, makeshift chastity device, was normally tied around the lower half of the girl’s body, though some accounts claim that each young person was placed into a bundling bag up to their necks, if possible.
If this happened, of course, the family knew who the child’s father was, and a marriage was often secured immediately to save the daughter’s reputation.
In Tudor England’s lower economic classes in particular, premarital sex was less of a social issue; simple contracts signed by the betrothed fathers, along with the town’s general acceptance of the union, was usually enough to officiate marriage.