- Gender and Relationships
On Which Hand Should This Ring be Worn?
Why the Fourth Digit?
Have you ever wondered why we women wear our wedding bands on the fourth digit of our left hand? Why don't we wear them on the right index finger or perhaps on the pinky or forefinger, which I believe would be just as nice? For example, I wear two wedding bands, one on my left hand and one on my right, which I always thought was a little untraditional but I wanted to show appreciation and love to both my husband and my mother. So, just out of curiosity, I decided to find out which hand was most appropriate for the one given to me on my wedding day. Therefore, I did some research on the Internet and was astounded at what I found.
Right or left, it doesn't matter
According to an article on Wikipedia (2010), the first wedding bands were traditionally worn by wives only (sorry guys). It seems that many men during ancient times were lords of harems or owners of slaves. Back in ancient times all a man had to do was grab a woman, band her, and she was considered to be married. Therefore, rings were often seen as a sign of ownership, not love or unity, thus they believed they had no use for wearing them. However, their wives were allowed to wear them on the fourth digit of either the left or right hand. It wasn't until much later that women began to wear them on the left hand.
But why the fourth digit of the left hand?
The earliest wedding bands were not worn on the finger at all, and most were not even made of gold, silver, or any other metal for that matter. For example, in the ancient Egyptian and Roman eras, one's life expectancy was very low and many believed that a person's spirit could flow out of their body at any time, thus ending their life forever. To prevent this, many believed they could keep the spirit intact and in the body by wrapping twigs and grass around the extremities. Still others believed that a vein ran through the fourth digit of the left hand and lead directly to the heart (although Science has since been quick to disprove this theory). This vein was called "the Vena Amoris (the vein of love)." And because of this, many people naturally assumed this was the most logical placement for the wedding band since it was a symbol of love, unity, and life itself. Thus, the fourth digit became known as the "ring finger." Although this was very romantic, many were still made of grass, twigs, tattoos, metal, or whatever was available or fashionable at the time. It wasn't until after the colonization of America that the wedding ring as we now know it became fashionable for women*, and even later (during World War I) for men (LoveToKnow.com, 2006-2010).
Okay, but on which hand will I wear my wedding ring?
Although it does not really matter which finger I wear the rings because they are just symbols, I will continue to wear the ring I was given when I married on my left hand as a symbol of my love and devotion to my dear husband, and I will continue to wear the other on my right in remembrance of my loving mother, the one who made it all possible. Besides, I love wearing them because they are beautiful and each bears a lifetime of precious memories. Thank you.
* This tradition may have also began when Puritan wives were given thimbles on their wedding day because they did not believe in giving or receiving gifts of monetary value, and eventually these were cut down and made into wearable items (LoveToKnow.com, 2006-2010).
LoveToKnow.com (2006-10). History of the wedding ring. Retrieved from
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2009). Wedding ring. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_ring