If you’re getting married soon, chances are you’re planning to exchange bands at the ceremony. The wedding band is a strong and classic symbol of the commitment of marriage within our society, and most people follow the tradition without question. However, if you’re curious to dig a bit deeper into the roots of this ritual, here are some historical facts surrounding wedding rings.
The origin of the wedding band can be traced all the way back to the Egyptian culture around 3000 BC. Egyptian communities considered the ring’s empty, round center to signify a gateway or door into future happiness. When they slipped it on their fingers, it was like walking through the designated path to happy future events. Throughout the years, an expectation has developed throughout many cultures, though not all, that the ring should be worn on the married partner’s left hand. In fact, in all probability, the term “ring finger” for one’s fourth finger on that hand stems from this custom. The reason this particular finger is so special is that a vein (called “vena amoris” by ancient Greek and Roman cultures) runs all the way from your ring finger to your heart.
During the Middle Ages, a man would place the ring on his bride’s thumb at first. Then, he’d move it to her pointer, her middle finger, and finally land on her ring finger while he recited a prayer. During the 17th Century, “posy rings” were extremely popular among western European couples.
These rings, referenced in some of Shakespeare’s works, were special because they had a love poem engraved on the inside of the band. However, the full wedding band practices that are common today didn’t actually exist until around World War II. Up until this point, only women wore wedding bands, but when the soldiers went off to war during this period, they wore them as a token of their affection for wives back at home, and the tradition has stuck to this day.
No matter what wedding ring tradition you decide is right for your big day, the special significance of this small band will make a big impression.