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Wreath money is not a legal term, but the literal translation of German "Kranzgeld". Kranzgeld is money a man had to pay as compensation to a woman of "immaculate reputation" he was engaged to when he had sexual intercourse with her and then broke off the engagement (or caused it to be broken off e.g. through unfaithfulness). Immaculate reputation in this context meant mainly virginity, but could also be lost though other factors such as being convicted of a crime.
The term refers to the wreath that a bride traditionally wears at her wedding. In some European cultures, notably Germany, a virgin bride was entitled to wear a wreath of myrtle flowers; a non-virgin bride, on the other hand, had to wear a wreath made of straw.
In Germany, Kranzgeld was regulated in paragraph §1300 of the family law, part of the civil code Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch published in 1896 and taking effect in 1900. After being long considered irrelevant, it was finally abolished on May 4, 1998, when the entire law was renewed, on the occasion of a trial in 1993 where the judges decided the law was outdated. A woman had then tried to sue for 1000 DM (in 2004 roughly €500 or $500), but the request was denied on the grounds of equal rights between man and woman.
- Kranzgeld. Reverso Dictionary. Accessed May 19, 2012.