Weddings rings are as old as marriages. Did you know thatthe oldest record of exchange of rings goes way back to 4800 years in ancient Egypt? At that time rushes, sedges and reedsgrowing alongside papyrus were twisted in a braid to form a ring. Women used to wear these on their fingers along with other ornaments.
It was believed in many ancient cultures that the round shape of the ring symbolizes eternity, the cornerstone of a good marriage. Even the hole inside the ring has its own significance. It’s not only meant to fit the fingers but works as a gateway that leads to both known and unknown things. The significance of giving a ring to a woman would simplymean infinite and immortal love.
Since the materials used to make these rings did not last long, they were later substituted with bone, ivory and leather. It was believed thatthe more expensive the material used to make the ring, the more the love. Just as it does today, better materials also demonstrated the financial condition of the giver.
With the passage of time, the Roman’s also adopted this tradition. However, they twisted the idea ofwhy the ring was given?They did not offer the ring to show their love to a woman but as an emblem of ownership.They would ‘claim’ their women by giving them a ring. Later, Roman betrothal rings were made using iron and used to be called Anulus Pronubus, which is a sign of permanence and strength. It was the Romans who first started to engrave the rings.
Christians started using rings for weddings around 860 AD.They were not as simple as the wedding bands we see today. Rings at that timewere immensely decorated with engraved lyres, doves or two hands linkedtogether. Even the Church discouraged such rings by calling them ‘heathenish’. It was only in the 13th century that both wedding as well as betrothal rings were simplified and given a spiritual look. A Bishop aptly called it a “symbol of the union of hearts”.
Through different stages of history, wedding rings havebeen worn on various fingers, including the thumb. The tradition of wearing a wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand is believed to be derived from Roman culture. They believed thatthe vein on that finger—knownas ‘Vena Amoris’ or ‘Vein of Love’—is connected with the heart. However, there is no scientific fact to prove it.
There is also a logical reason whythe left hand finger is used. Gold is a soft metal and easily worn out. Therefore, it is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because most of us use the right hand for most of our tasks. The left hand keeps it safe!