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Wedding Band History, Customs & Magic

Updated on April 21, 2008

Medicine Budhha

Standing Bhaiṣajyaguru Buddha at the Gyeongju This image was originally posted to Flickr by danielcraig
Standing Bhaiṣajyaguru Buddha at the Gyeongju This image was originally posted to Flickr by danielcraig
 

The concept of the wedding band or wedding ring originated sometime between 1350-1400 A.D . It is a precious metal ring made of silver or gold or ( more recently) platinum).

It is worn on the ring finger which is between the middle and little fingers of the hand. In many ancient beliefs it is thought that this finger has magic power. One illustration is the idea of the Buddha who is known as the medicine Buddha who uses the ring finger of his right hand for healing.

Which Hand Is The Ring Finger On?

 

In many western societies the ring is worn on the ring finger of the left hand. This custom is developed from the Roman Belief that that the vein in the left ring finger called the "vena amoris" was a symbol of love that provided a direct connection to the heart. This became a tradition that has come to represent a couple declaring eternal love for each other.

The wedding ring is worn on different fingers depending on the country and different cultures. It is normally worn on the left hand in the UK,other commonwealth countries,the United States, Ireland,Iran,Italy,Korea,Japan.Brazil,Chile,Mexico,Sweden ,France and Slovenia.

The right handis used in Greece,Colombia,Venezuela,Russia,Spain,Germany,India,Poland and Slovakia. Also people from Easter European countries and Orthodox Christians have a tradition of wearing the wedding band on the right hand..

Now it really gets complicated.

To further complicate keeping track of the right hand from the left: In the Netherlands everyone wears their wedding ring on the right except Catholics who wear them on the left but in Austria Catholics wear them on the right. In Belgium it depends on what region of the country you are from.

"Suspicion Torments My Mind" echoes Elvis

We said earlier that one reason for wearing wedding rings on the left hand was the Roman idea of the "Venus Amoris" or vein of love in the ring finger of the left hand. (Here come the Romans again)The Romans are also given (credit/blame) for wearing the rings on the right hand because: Sinister (which has a negative meaning in English) is the Latin word for left and dexter (with a positive English meaning-ie..dexterity)is the Latin word for right seems to favor choosing the right hand. This may explain a suspicious nature of those cultures that chose the right hand.This suspicion was sometimes exhibited in other ways.

Do not Take This Off.

Six Band Puzzle Ring
Six Band Puzzle Ring
 

For example it was popular among some Greek and Anatolian men to give their wives puzzle rings because they could not easily be removed and reassembled and put back on quickly so they were thought to insure fidelity or perhaps to help detect infidelity.

You would think that the English speaking countries would have chosen the right hand instead of the left which is their normal since the English word sinister is directly derived from the Latin word for left..

Is This Marriage For Love Or Money?

 

The wedding ring has become a symbol of pledged love and fidelity but that has not always been their primary use. Originally, it seems that use of wedding rings was more about the promise of wealth than love. In addition, women's rings were made of silver and men's of gold signifying the superiority of the man: It seems that times have changed.

In older times, the wedding rings did not only signify a sign of love, but were also linked to the bestowal of 'earnest money'. According to the prayer book of Edward VI: after the words 'with this ring I thee wed' follow the words 'This gold and silver I give thee', at which point the groom was supposed to hand a leather purse filled with gold and silver coins to the bride.

According to Wikipedia the wedding ring was a contract

Not only in England was the wedding ring considered more connected to the exchange of valuables at the moment of the wedding than a symbol of eternal love and devotion but in most other European countries as well. Sometimes it went as far as being a conditional exchange as this German formula shows: 'I give you this ring as a sign of the marriage which has been promised between us, provided your father gives with you a marriage portion of 1000 Reichsthalers'

DeBeers says: Why Not Both? Give Her The Love And Give Us The Money.

 

Today nearly every married person in the United States wears a wedding band which is a tremendous change since World War-II. due to major marketing campaigns by the jewelry industry.ie.."Diamonds are Forever" by De Beers. Prior to the Great depression mostly women wore wedding rings and only 15% of weddings were double ring ceremonies. By the late 1940s that had changed to 80%.

The jewelry marketed as a part of marriage continues to explode. In addition to the engagement ring and the wedding ring there is now the eternity ring . While the wedding ring is the centerpiece of the wedding ceremony most brides also are interested in additional wedding jewelry for herself and her bridesmaids.

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    • DonnaCSmith profile image

      Donna Campbell Smith 

      10 years ago from Central North Carolina

      Very interesting! I love learning about traditions and the meanings behind them. Good article.

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