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  • Writer's picturePrimavera Dreams

The Ring Finger & The Wedding Band

Matrimonial cultural differences can be spotted in even the most seemingly insignificant details, such as how a wedding band is traditionally worn. Depending on where one comes from, custom dictates if the ring should be worn on the right hand or the left hand - or not to be worn at all!

Rings as finger decorations were invented by our ancestors approximately 4,500 years ago: the oldest ones discovered by archaeologists in burials date back to that time.

Rings were especially popular in ancient Egypt, where they were worn on different fingers, made of metals and faience, and decorated with stones. One of the most memorable rings from this time period was the famous turquoise ring in the shape of a scarab. Traditionally, ancient Egyptians gave each other rings for the New Year.

From Egypt, rings spread to ancient Greece and ancient Rome, and soon the ring finger on the left hand got a magical meaning: it was believed to be connected to a vein that supplies blood directly to the heart (vena amoris, the vein of love).

While in the US, UK, France, and many other countries, the fourth finger of the hand is called 'the ring finger,' in other countries, it is called 'the nameless finger' (Chinese, Russian, Finnish, Sanskrit). From Hebrew its name (kmitsa) translates to 'taking a handful'. In 16th & 17th Century England, the unnamed finger was used for wearing an engagement ring, referring back to ancient traditions.

At first, wedding bands were worn mostly by married women and only occasionally by married men. The significance of married men wearing a ring came about during the Second World War: men going to war wore the ring as a token of fidelity to their wives, and the women who stayed at home wore their rings with special tenderness. Since then, the tradition of wearing wedding bands as a sign of marital status has become firmly established and is considered in many countries as a matter of course.

Conventionally, the wedding ring is worn on the left hand in the US, UK, Canada, some European countries (Italy, France, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, etc.), and Mexico. In the traditionally-Orthodox European countries (Russia, Greece, Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria) and some Catholic (Austria, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Norway, Poland), as well as in Colombia, Cuba, Peru, and Venezuela, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand.

In Islamic countries, there is no tradition of wearing wedding rings at all. In India, there is no such tradition either, but Indian brides frequently wear a ring as a sign of betrothal rather than of marriage. In Brazil, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand as a sign of betrothal before the wedding and then moves to the left hand after the marriage. This switch happens in reverse In Germany and the Netherlands.

Long live diversity and love!

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