Shopping for a wedding band is an exciting part of any couple’s ceremony preparations – after all, these are the bands that the two of you will be wearing for the rest of your lives. But have you ever stopped to think why we wear wedding bands – and why we place these precious gold, platinum or palladium bands around our fourth finger?
We certainly have. With a little investigation, we discovered the cultural events and beliefs that shaped the traditions that revolve around our wedding bands. Read on to find out more about these beliefs – they’ll certainly make you see your beautiful new wedding band in a new light!
The Origin of the Left Ring Finger. Wonder why almost every Western culture places wedding bands on the left ring finger rather than the right? This is because ancient philosophers in Greece believed that our left ring fingers were the starting point of the “Vena Amoris”, or the Vein of Love. According to these ancients, the vein connected the ring finger directly to the heart, thus establishing this finger’s importance in determining matters of the heart. However, the tradition of placing jewelry on the left ring finger didn’t begin until the 11th century, when the habit was adopted from eastern European cultures. By placing a wedding band on the ring finger, it symbolizes that the person will be eternally faithful and loving to their spouse.
However, not all cultures favor the left ring finger over the right; in fact, some countries even regard it as a sign of evil…
Left Hand vs. Right Hand. For many cultures, placing the ring finger on the left hand is unheard of, as the left hand represents evil energies, while the right represents benevolent energies. These origins can be traced back to the early beliefs that marked left-handed people as witches or warlocks. While we certainly don’t believe these superstitions today, many countries still prioritize the right hand over the left, including Spain, India, Chile and many Eastern European countries. Additionally, some orthodox Catholics continue to follow this tradition.
The Ring Finger Controversy. While many people believe that we wear wedding bands on our left ring fingers due to the “Love Vein,” there are some who oppose this theory. Some historians have pointed out that in early official marriages in England, the ring placement would follow prayer recitations. For the prayer “In the name of the Father,” the ring would be placed on the thumb; “The Son” would be placed on the index finger; and “The Holy Ghost” would lead to the middle finger. “Amen” would directly place the wedding band on the ring finger.
As you can see, the origins of why we wear wedding bands are varied, fascinating and rife with history. So when you place your wedding band on your sweetheart’s ring finger during the big day, you’ll know the important cultural beliefs that led you to that very moment.