Wedding Traditions: The Wedding Ring

Tradition holds that the circular shape of the wedding ring symbolizes the vow of never-ending love.

Although through out history various materials have been used for the wedding ring, early traditions from ancient Egypt mention gold rings being used for weddings.  By placing a gold ring on the finger of his bride, the groom demonstrated his trust in his wife with his riches.

Later cultures used the ring to symbolize part of the transfer of riches to the wife or wife’s family.  The first reference to a ring in the bible appears in Genesis 24:22 where Abraham’s servant, who was on a quest to find a wife for Isaac, gave a gold ring to Rebecca.  Of interest is that this ring was taken from the nose of a camel!!!

Since Roman times the wedding ring has been worn on the left third finger.  This finger was thought to have a vein that went straight to the heart, the vena amoris, and that by placing a ring on that finger you were placing a ring around the groom’s heart!

Some folklore references suggest that the ring was meant to ward off evil spirits.  Today, a ring worn on the left 3rd finger is more likely to ward off unwanted “hits” by the opposite sex!

Although gold is still a very popular metal for wedding rings, modern couples use other metals such as stainless steel, platinum, tungsten and titanium.  One quick word of advice: gold is much softer than other metals and hence is easy to cut off the finger in case of an accident that causes rapid swelling.  If you ever have a finger injury, remove your ring.  If your ring is platinum or other hard metal it will be much more difficult for the emergency room physician to cut it off if your finger swells!

Although there are numerous other references to the wedding band in various historical documents, it has come to symbolize the eternal love that couples vow to have for each other once it is placed on the finger.

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