History of the Wedding Ring
The Symbolism…The wedding ring is the most instantly recognizable symbol of marriage. It signifies a promise of never-ending love, devotion, and loyalty. In short, it is the physical representation of the wedding vows. When worn as part of a pair, it embodies the unyielding bond between two people and connects them even when they are apart.
Significance of the shape… Egyptians as well as many other ancient cultures believed the circle to be an image of eternity, having no beginning and no end. The sun and moon are ceaselessly worshipped because of their spherical form. The circular shape of the wedding ring represents a never-ending promise of love and commitment. The hole in the center of the ring has long been thought to signify an entrance to things and events both known and unknown.
Double Ring Ceremonies…Up until the Mid-20th Century, wedding rings were worn by the wife alone. The tradition of men wearing wedding rings is relatively new. When WWII broke out and many young men faced lengthy separations from their wives, men began wearing wedding rings as a sign of commitment and fidelity to their marriage and wives. By the late 1940’s, double-ring ceremonies comprised the majority (80%) of all weddings, in contrast to the small percentage (15%) of all ceremonies prior to the Great Depression.
Why the fourth finger of the left hand? Ancient Romans and Egyptians believed that the vein from that finger, called the “vena amoris” in Latin, ran directly to the heart. Romans tout the vena amoris as “the vein of love,” and thus the ideal finger for the placement of the wedding ring. Another custom supporting the forth finger placement of the wedding ring was that of the Medieval England bridegroom, who would slide ring part way up bride’s thumb, index, and middle finger as he spoke the words, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost” as he passed each finger. He would then slide the ring on the next available finger, which was the fourth finger of left hand. These traditions have been passed down from generation to generation, and the fourth finger is now universally known as the “ring finger”. Science has since disproved the vena amoris-heart theory, however, it is still romantic to imagine that our wedding rings are on a direct path to our hearts.
Images courtesy of Unique Titanium Wedding Rings.