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In my writing, I examine the formation and transformation of the betrothal practices of the Roman Catholic Hungarian community of Gyimes based on the results of my fieldwork research from 2005 to 2016. Betrothal came into practice in the 1980s; prior to that, ethnographic sources only mention the ritual occasion of proposal. According to Roman Catholic church norms, the ring could not be worn before the church wedding; only newlyweds were allowed to put it on their finger. For a long time, they used borrowed rings for the blessing of the rings. I explore why it was important for young couples to buy or have their own precious metal wedding rings made, despite regulations that virtually prohibited, but certainly did not support, the pre-wedding wearing of rings. Why did ring wearing and betrothal itself become fashionable? I identify the ideologies and concepts that transformed the earlier rites and views and how they contributed to the popularity of wedding ring sets and companion rings offered by jewelers. I argue that an alternative betrothal rite, the act and ideology of the Csíksomlyó ring exchange, could have greatly contributed to betrothal and ring wearing becoming a common practice in Gyimes. Until the 1990s, this was a strategy adopted by the local community which, similarly to the secular, profane passage into womanhood or emergency baptism, offered an opportunity to exit marginal life situations.

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Acta Ethnographica Hungarica
Balázs Borsos
Judit Balatonyi
Eszter Győrfy
Ákos Nagy
, and
Attila Paládi-Kovács
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