Here’s Why People Propose on One Knee

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There are big questions about life and the way it works, and then there are some that are smaller, but if you ask me, they’re all good questions.

We’ve got to keep learning – at least one thing every day, that’s what my great-grandfather used to say.

If you’re curious why the traditional proposal includes the person proposing dropping to one knee, keep reading to find out – knowledge if power, people!

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The general thinking is that the practice has old roots, but is perhaps the result of a combination of practices. People have been genuflecting, or “bending the knee” to show respect and/or reverence since ancient times – Herodotus even observed the practice in Persia in 430 BCE.

“In the case where one is a little inferior to the other, the kiss is given on the cheek.

Where the difference of rank is great, the inferior prostrates himself upon the ground.”

This greeting system was adopted by Alexander the Great after he conquered that empire a hundred years later, even though many Greeks and Macedonians disapproved of the new ritual because of a belief that sort of deference should be reserved for the gods and nobody else.

It remained popular in both religious and secular spheres in the future, though, with the Catholics dropping to a knee when facing the Eucharist and warriors being knighted kneeling before their commander to be dubbed with a sword.

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It was during the knight’s heyday that kneeling began to take on a bit of a romantic bent, when knights pledged themselves to serve and honor their lovers like a or king (this is also the origin of the term “courtly love.”

There’s a good amount of artwork from the medieval period that depicts a man kneeling before the lady, and they all look a lot like a proposal (except for the armor).

Image Credit: iStock

Basically, the idea of “bending the knee” has pretty much always been a sign of devotion and humility, but the romantic association probably comes from medieval knights – not a bad way to go if you’re asking someone to marry you and pick up your socks forever, I’d say.

Have you proposed? Did you get down on one knee? Tell us why or why not in the comments!