Why do we wear wedding rings?

Have you ever wondered why we wear wedding rings? Or rather, why are they used on the fourth finger of the left hand?

It is unclear when this tradition so widespread in Western culture began. Some believe that the earliest records of wedding ring exchange came from Egypt and occurred some 4800 years ago. At that time, different kinds of reeds - growing together with the well-known papyrus - were twisted and braided to form rings and other ornaments worn by women.

The circle has always been the symbol of eternity, an element without beginning or end, prized by the Egyptians and other cultures. The space in the center of the ring also had meaning and represented a gateway to the known and the unknown. Giving a woman a ring was a proof of eternal and immortal love.

Shortly thereafter, the raw material of the rings was replaced by longer-lasting materials such as leather, bones and marble. The more expensive the ring, the greater the love of the person offering the piece. The value of the artifact also represented the richness of the gift giver.

Other traditions

At some point, the tradition of exchanging rings also reached the Romans. But there was a slight difference - to them, the ring was not a symbol of love but of possession. Roman engagement rings were made of iron, symbolized strength and permanence, and were called the Anulus Pronubus . It is also believed that the Romans were the first to engrave the rings.

Image Source: Reproduction / Shutterstock

But it was not until the year 860 that Christians began to wear the rings in wedding ceremonies. They were often far-fetched pieces carved with doves, lyre or two linked hands. The Catholic Church regarded this type of ring as a pagan item, so by the 13th century the jewels used to propose and consolidate the union were simplified and gained a more spiritual air.

One ring, several fingers

Wedding rings have gone through different stages throughout history and have been worn on different fingers, including the big toe, on both hands. But there are some explanations that can help us understand why today it is most commonly carried on the fourth finger of the left hand.

According to Roman tradition, the wedding ring should be worn on the ring finger of the left hand because it runs through a vein that connects directly to the heart and was called by them the Vena Amoris, or "vein of love." Later on, scientists discovered that this information is false, but this remains the favorite explanation of inveterate romantics.

Image Source: Reproduction / Shutterstock

Another theory from Christianity seems to offer a more plausible justification for the fact that the wedding ring ended up on the fourth finger of the left hand. The story goes that during the ceremony of the first Christian marriages, the priest celebrated the union by saying “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” while touching the thumb, index and middle finger with the ring respectively. And in saying "Amen, " the clergyman placed the ring on the fourth finger to seal the marriage.

The last explanation is more practical and is based on the idea that gold, which is the metal traditionally used to make wedding rings, suffers less wear on the left hand, since most people are right-handed. Moreover, it seems that the fourth finger was chosen precisely because it is one of the least used fingers. The little finger, in turn, would result in a ring too small to be engraved and decorated, so the next least-worn finger that is similar in size to the ring was chosen.

* Originally posted on 11/30/2013.


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