Origins and Traditions of the Wedding Ring

Wedding rings represent the idea of eternal love. As in a circle, there is no beginning and no end.  It is believed that the first wedding ring exchange occurred over 4800 years ago in ancient Egypt. They would braid papyrus and leaves into decorative rings and give them to their loved ones. This practice eventually evolved to the use of more permanent materials such as bone, ivory, or leather. 

Similar to some modern day women, the ancient Egyptians believed that the material used for the ring was directly correlated to the love and wealth of their partner. The Greeks and Romans adopted the wedding band tradition as a sign to claim their wives (some things never change).  It is believed that they conceived the idea to wear the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand (now known as the ring finger) because they thought that a vein from that finger ran directly to the heart. This vein is referred to as the “vena amoris,” or the vein of love. Although scientific evidence has proved that this myth is false, many people still find the tradition to be romantic. 

Another, more practical, reason why wedding rings are worn on the left hand ring finger is that most people are right handed. In order to protect the metal and precious stones that engagement and wedding rings are often made of, most people suggest wearing it on the less dominant hand. Your ring finger is also one of your least used fingers and it is protected by the pinky.

In the Jewish tradition, the wedding band must be completely smooth with no engraving or gemstones.  The completely unbroken circle is supposed to represent a smooth marriage without conflict. Some couples, however, get two wedding bands. One for the ceremony-smooth and unbroken- and one with diamonds to be worn on a daily basis.

The reason and specifics of wedding rings vary from culture to culture and from religion to religion. What never changes is that a wedding band symbolizes love. As traditions evolve and times change, the materials may transform from bone to platinum but the reason for the ring- the never ending circle of love- will always remain the same. <3




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