Matchmaking is far from a new phenomenon, and has a long history as an integral part of several cultures throughout the ages. From arranged marriages to dating agencies, matchmaking is a popular choice to find a partner, and has been throughout history.
The first professional matchmakers are thought to have appeared in the 1600s: In Britain, the first so-called ‘dating agencies’ were run by Parish Vicars, in an attempt to match their parishioners to others of a similar class. This continued for several centuries, allowing single churchgoers to escape the stigma associated with being single at an older age. This practice led to the first dating agency not run by the church to be opened in London in 1825. Although the service was no longer run by the church, the focus of uniting individuals of a similar status in society remained.
In traditional Chinese and Japanese cultures, professional matchmakers, sometimes called a Nakodo, are used to deem if a young girl is suitable are ready to be matched to a man for marriage. In Japan, meetings between potential partners are known as ‘Miai’, a word often translated as an arranged marriage. Many argue that this cannot lead to a loving a fruitful marriage, but the Japanese are likely to reject this idea, saying that meeting through a Miai can develop into a loving relationship, but at the same time may not lead to marriage.
Matchmaking is a longstanding tradition in Ireland too, with a matchmaking festival being held every September and October in a town called Lisdoovarna. The tradition originated with tourists flocking to the town in the late summer months to appreciate the mineral springs in the area. This has developed into Europe’s largest single’s event and is attended each year by more than 40,000 people, some in search of love, and others simply in search of a good time.
Traditional Jewish communities have professional matchmakers known as shadchans that arrange meetings called shidduch between prospective partners. This practice is believed to comply with Judaism’s views that relationships between men and women should remain modest. Matchmaking is also deemed especially important in the smaller Jewish communities where the chance of meeting someone suitable to marry is somewhat limited!
In Hindu communities, matchmaking is based on ensuring prospective partners have compatible horoscopes.
Many of the traditional ways of matchmaking that were once used are no longer as popular as they once were. However dating has evolved in such a way that it is estimated that more than 20 million people use dating sites each year, with this number continuing to rise. In today’s era, with both spare time and money limited, using an Introduction Agency has taken over the role of traditional matchmakers as well as the dating agencies that first opened their doors in the 1600s – proof that matchmaking is very much relevant and up-to-date for us today! Even more radical means of matchmaking are the various TV shows that pair off couples, such as Blind Date and more recently, Take Me out, that have proven very popular.