SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Nahed ALMEREE “Syrian Way of Proposal”
I was recently asked by the people around me very often about my schedule after graduation because we will be graduating soon. Especially, in the case of postgraduate students, who have studied several years, they are asked about jobs or works after graduation. Being asked about jobs, they are even asked about marriages or marital status especially if a woman unmarried.
Since I have majored in Japanese literature, I came to Japan in September 2011 to get doctoral degree. And I have obtained doctoral degree last month i.e. March 2020 basing on my doctoral thesis which I completed on last December 2019 taking tenure of eight years. It may be quite natural to be asked about jobs or life after my return to Syria. Among a lot of queries done to me, last year, the one was concerns and surprises. It was a question about “proposing” which precede marriage. “Proposing” has been conversed very often so far but has not been discusses concretely.
Several times I was asked by Japanese acquaintances or friends who are of my age saying “how do I propose?” or “how were Nahed-san proposed?” I understood that Japanese young men worry about words, places and timing of proposal. When Japanese young men propose, they spend a lot of money on gift and luxury hotel or restaurant.
I was surprised, why they worry about such things and spend so much money? I asked reason and I came to know there are obligation in Japan that young men should follow. For women who are proposed, they are given with good topics for discuss and heat up their chat.
As there is a big difference in meaning of a word “proposal” between Syria and Japan, I searched for a keyword “proposal” on Google and could hit so many links unexpectedly. I was disappointed with so many pages which suggest how, when(timing) and where they should propose.
In my case, I had been attached with him for two years before I came to Japan, and I do not remember how he proposed. To begin with, I do not remember well whether he used a word “proposal” clearly. It is not so important for Syrian girls.
In Syria or other neighboring countries, when men or women become aware of being compatible or like with each other, they will keep staying near to each other intentionally. And they try to communicate more on school hours and stay longer. I think friendship between men and women start like this in many countries. In Syria, men are more positive than women of course. They become lovers eventually and are tied to knots after being acquainted with each other.
To get married, suitor talks each other and decide. Then, girl tells her mother and finally discussed with the man of the house. After that she conveys parents’ consent to him, determine the timing of their parents for their engagement. After both the family meets, the boy’s father says “it is my great honor to welcome your daughter to be our daughter-in-law”. Then girl’s father says “it’s my privilege too to be one family when our daughter and your son will marry”. Their engagement is admitted among their families and they will have an engagement party accordance by two fathers. It will take a few weeks or months for the preparation of wedding ceremony and finally the wedding is held. It is a procedure in Syria and other neighboring countries. Initiated relationship through their fathers are welcomed by the women.
Before engagement, man usually buys gifts and takes woman to fancy restaurants. At the beginning stage, he gives flowers often. The flowers may not be expensive. It may be a roses or jasmine which are found easily. Eventually they get into serious relationship, and man starts gifting her with presents like watches and bags. However, women would not be pleased if the stage will not go to proposal initiated through father and involving parents from both sides. Proposing place is fixed at her family’s house. Men visits her family’s house with his parents bringing fruits or cakes and they will leave the rest to their fathers.
I noticed wonderful way of proposal in Japan, which young couples are playing leading part and thought that men’s burden would be heavy. It is a big difference from Syria. You may think Syrian way of proposal is too traditional and boring. But it is much more wonderful for me, born in Syria, to be proposed being supported and watched by parents. Especially, I think it doubtful that internet or SNS suggest men side words, places and timings of proposal.
It is quite natural that proposal style varies in countries and generations.
When I see, on the Internet, a lot of suggestions about proposal which should be an important step to make a family, I had a feeling, frankly speaking, that individual spontaneity or positiveness would be shrouded in darkness without realizing. Women side would have a high acceptance for proposal, men side may lose confidences and miss chances to make proposal. Present society or SNS inflame modern style of proposal. But it is a natural course of proposal style that lead to realistic marriage which might not be ideal.
It is already nine years I am in Japan and the people around ask me many questions. “Proposal” is one of them and my opinion is mentioned above.
SGRA Kawaraban 645 in Japanese (Original)
Nahed_ALMAREE / 2019 Raccoon
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala