This Is Why You Get Down on One Knee to Propose

That knight in shining armour from your favourite childhood fairy tale may play a part.

Propose on one kneePhoto: Shutterstock

Why Do We Propose on One Knee?

A traditional marriage proposal typically plays out like this: Your partner bends down on one knee, betroths themselves to you, and presents a sparkling diamond ring nestled in a black velvet box. But why do we get down on one knee to pop the question in the first place? (Find out why we wear wedding rings on the fourth finger.)

Unfortunately, nobody can agree on the historical origins of this romantic gesture, but there are a few reported theories that show promise.

During the Middle Ages, chivalry was not yet dead and formal courtship was the medieval version of modern-day dating. Kneeling was also the protocol for many ceremonial rituals and rites of passage, including those of the romantic kind. Medieval artwork and literature show knights genuflecting before their feudal lord as a sign of honour and respect, or kneeling in front of a noblewoman to express their eternal servitude and admiration in a show of “courtly love.” (Here’s the notably unromantic reason we have bridesmaids and groomsmen at weddings.)

But medieval rituals aren’t the only possible explanation; religion may play a role as well. Many faiths, like Christianity and Islam, have their worshippers kneel in prayer to express their devoted service and everlasting respect for their God.

So when your beloved takes a knee and whips out that ring, they’re not only hoping you’ll say “yes,” they’re telling you you’re worthy of honour, respect, and love that lasts an eternity.

Now that we have that answer, the true question is why are wedding dresses white? And, as far as the wedding ceremony itself goes, what are the luckiest wedding traditions in the world, and what wedding etiquette rules should never be broken? The more you know!

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest