C is for Courting
That should be no surprise if you've read anything on my blog or read my In Hyacinth series. There's something magical about the concept of courting. I'm not a fan of 'dating'. It reminds me of clothes shopping, having to try on millions of pairs of pants before finding the right fit. Ugh. No thank you.
But being in a community where you court one person over a set period of time, working toward marriage, is a nice little fantasy of mine. I know most consider it old fashioned, but I find it charming. And yes, if I was a young girl, I'd be excited to be a courtable in Hyacinth too :)
In Courted by Discipline, Kathy, our heroine, was not as pleased by the concept when she first heard of it. In this discussion with her parents, she gets a little shock.
“Kathryn,” he said and the fact he used her given name just added weight to whatever he was about to say. “Hyacinth is different. You know that much.” He paused and she nodded to let him know she was listening. “It’s based on values we cherish. There are several different religions and belief systems here, but what draws us all together is family.
“Family in Hyacinth is the most important unit.” As he spoke, Carilyn took Kathy’s hand in her own. “Families must be based on trust, love, and the readiness for such a commitment. Now, out in the rest of our world, people can date here, there, everywhere. They may date someone for a decade and still not want to actually make that commitment to marriage. Others are so terrified of it that if they actually get married, they are divorced within months or years.
“Marriages here are based on something a lot more traditional. A couple hundred years ago when a girl reached a certain age, she had a coming-out party, an announcement that she was ready for marriage. In Hyacinth, a girl’s eighteenth birthday is that time. She’s considered mature enough to take on the mantle of wife and to take care of a house. For the men, that age is much higher, for he must prove to the community as a whole and to the girl’s father that he can provide a good home for her.
“As such, when a girl turns eighteen, she’s available for a courting here in our town.”
While he spoke, Kathy had been unable to make a sound. It all sounded so strange. A part of her thought it was a good strange as dating, the couple times she had done it, had sucked. But most of her was kind of horrified.
“But I’m only a senior in high school,” she whispered when he paused for a few seconds. “Surely this kind of thing won’t happen for at least a year.” Or two… or maybe even five. They could wait until college was done, right?
“Marriage couldn’t happen for at least a year,” he said gently. “But the courting could happen at any point. In fact, there are already four men in town who have asked for permission to spend time with you.”
Her eyes widened and she stared at him. “No.” She meant to yell it but it came out as a whimper.
Carilyn held her hand tighter. “It isn’t as bad as it sounds,” she assured her daughter who turned and stared at her uncomprehendingly. “It isn’t like two hundred years ago in that you met with someone, were engaged two weeks later and married a few weeks after that. The courting is a full year of—” She paused as if looking for the right words. “—call it conscious dating. Spending time with the same man daily, getting to know him as he gets to know you. There would be no dating guy after guy after guy looking for the right one. Instead, the two of you work for a year to see if you form a bond. If you don’t, the courting is disbanded and you move on. Plus, as I understand it, your father has to approve of the council’s choice before they can officially announce your courting.”
“In fact,” her father added, “once the council asks for my permission and makes its decision, then the choice is yours, Kathy. You do get a say here.” Relief flooded through her. Well, at least she wouldn’t be forced into dating someone she couldn’t stand. Knowing that she had a choice made her feel marginally better about it.
Hyacinth, Washington is all about traditional values. In Hyacinth; its residents live their lives by discipline; there is a strong male head of house; and words like trust, honor, and kindness aren't just buzzwords. Each story in the series is of a young woman (18-20) and her struggle to figure out who she is in this little town while at the same time going through Hyacinth's old-fashioned courting system. On their way to meet, get to know, and finally marry their princes, these heroines grow in ways they and their town never expected.
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Labels: Bree Cariad, C, Courted by Discipline, Courting, In Hyacinth, romance, spankA2Z