Encyclopedia > Engagement

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An engagement is an agreement of a couple to enter into marriage at some future time, and usually more or less officially announcing this. The couple are then described as being engaged. The male partner is called fiancé, the female, fiancée. The concept of an engagement period began in 1215 at the Fourth Lateran Council[?], when Pope Innocent III declared a longer waiting period between betrothal and marriage.

The practice of giving or exchanging engagement rings began in 1477 when Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor gave Mary of Burgundy a diamond ring as an engagement present.

In contemporary Western culture, it is quite common (in fact, in some areas, far more common than not) for couples to spend a considerable period of engagement, often living together, possibly without concrete plans for the marriage ceremony.

See also Engagement ring.

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