History of use

Why is the ring worn on the right finger?

The most beautiful fairy tales, the most inspiring romantic stories end with a wedding. These are tectonic changes in the fate of both lovers – their paths met and finally merged into one. Then later there will be a festive table, and shouts of guests “Bitter!”, and a photo shoot, and flowers with champagne, and a huge cake, and preparations for the honeymoon, but for now. “Please exchange rings,” – like the final and at the same time the initial chord of a magical piece of music. A man and a woman become something new – a family. And the symbol of this sacred union, a sign of their mutual belonging to each other, are the gold rings that the young husband and wife exchange. But why are wedding rings worn on the ring finger and where did this tradition come from?

History of tradition

There are many versions of the origin of wedding rings, as well as explanations for why they are worn on the ring finger. One thing is certain: this tradition goes back centuries. It is believed that wedding rings first appeared in Ancient Egypt. This happened about five thousand years ago. The first rings that sealed the union of a man and a woman were woven from reeds that grew on the banks of the Nile, a river sacred to every ancient Egyptian. The Egyptians came up with the idea of ​​wearing a wedding ring on the ring finger of the left hand. There are several reasons for this. First: the inhabitants of Ancient Egypt were keenly interested in anatomy, and did not only study it during the dissection of their pharaohs. They discovered that it was the left ring finger that was directly connected to the heart by the vena cava. The second reason is more prosaic. This finger, and even on the left hand, is practically not involved in any “manual” activity, which means the ring does not interfere with work. It is interesting that initially the symbol of the bonds of Hymen was worn only by women (this is evidenced by excavations of ancient Roman monuments) – as a sign of belonging to a spouse. The husband remained unringed. Later the tradition spread to the stronger sex. It was in Ancient Rome that rings made of metal – bronze, iron – appeared. And the gold coins that are familiar to everyone began to circulate only in the 4th century AD. Next, as follows from the school course on the history of the ancient world, there was ancient Greece. Europe came up with a language of flowers, in which a bouquet could encrypt the most verbose and tender message to the object of desire. The ancient Greeks were pragmatic and invented the language of rings, which, by the way, was popular among men until the beginning of the 20th century. According to him, if a ring adorned the index finger, it meant that a bachelor was not averse to starting a family, the middle finger – a close friend for amorous affairs, the little finger – the dream of remaining a bachelor and the reluctance of any relationship. The ring finger was dedicated to Aphrodite, the deity of love. The symbol of marriage was worn on it.

How does this relate to religion?

It is curious that the tradition of exchanging wedding rings and wearing them on the ring fingers is directly related to religion. This tradition is followed by Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants. During the ceremony, Jewish brides receive rings on their index fingers from their grooms. But Buddhists do not have a ritual for exchanging these wedding symbols. Muslims also do not exchange wedding rings, although giving a new wife a beautiful ring. why not? In Islam, a man’s touching a woman who is not his legal spouse is considered haram (forbidden). This means that exchanging rings during a marriage when the man and woman have not yet been married is against the laws of religion. Interestingly, Shariah also prohibits men from wearing gold.

So which finger: right or left?

The name officially began to be called a wedding ring in Byzantium around the 9th century. The Orthodox Greek tradition singled out the right hand as the “correct” one; moreover, it is believed that it is behind a person’s right shoulder that his guardian angel is located. In addition, the right hand is always in sight: it was used to make the sign of the cross, give alms, take objects, and do basic work. This is why Orthodox Christians, who, by the way, are the overwhelming majority in Russia, wear a wedding ring on the ring finger of their right hand. In ancient times, it was customary in Rus’ to exchange engagement rings. But the tradition of exchanging wedding cards came only around the 15th century. Until then she was absent. Of course, it is difficult to say this for certain, especially since the culture in the Russian regions differed significantly. But this is indirectly evidenced by the fact that when Sophia Paleologus and Ivan the Third were married in absentia in Rome, the tsar did not give the bride a wedding ring. In Rome they were very surprised by this, to which Ambassador Ivan Fryazin said that the Russians do not have such a tradition. Initially in Rus’, women’s rings were gold and men’s rings were iron. Gold symbolized the purity, charm and purity of the bride, iron – strength, masculinity, constancy of the groom. Later, men’s rings began to be made from expensive metal. Today, “wedding bands” on the right hand are worn not only in our country, but also in many countries where Orthodox traditions are strong. First of all, these are the territories of the post-Soviet space, some states of Eastern Europe. Which ring finger is the wedding ring placed on to the west? The Catholic religion, common in the West, involves wearing a ring on the left hand. This applies to most countries in Europe and America.

Diamond engagement rings

When many people hear about wedding rings, they imagine a smooth, thin gold band without carvings or stones. This is also a tribute to tradition: with a smooth ring, married life will be smooth and calm. However, we are in the 21st century, and many traditions have already changed. Why not reconsider your attitude towards this one? Moreover, this has already been done all over the world – in many countries, during the wedding, young people put magnificent sparkling rings with one stone or a whole scattering on the fingers of their chosen ones. And then. A luxurious diamond ring will not only testify to the new status of your loved one, but will also become a bright, beloved decoration, which with its stellar shine will remind you of your love. Surprise your future spouse with a unique engagement ring featuring one or more diamonds. And to be sure of the quality of work and the authenticity of the stones, order it from us. We offer only certified diamonds. Your rings will be made in strict accordance with your wishes, and we will include certificates with the stones. Wearing wedding rings after a wedding is an ancient tradition, evidence of which was found in ancient culture. Over several thousand years in different countries of the world it has undergone some changes. In our tradition, it is customary to wear these accessories on the ring finger of the right hand. And, for example, in Islam such decorations are considered optional. Today we’ll talk about which countries wear a wedding ring on which hand and other traditions associated with this decoration.

Where wedding rings are worn on the left hand

Since ancient times, it has been customary to wear the accessory on the ring finger. Previously it was believed that the left arm and heart were connected by the so-called vein of love. Later it was called the nerve. That is why in the Mediterranean arose the tradition of wearing a ring on the ring finger of the left hand. It was believed that he was as close as possible to the heart, which in turn was responsible for romantic feelings. If a person wears a wedding ring on his left hand, it means he was brought up in the spirit of Western traditions.

In Europe

In most countries in this part of the world, it is customary to wear a wedding ring on the left hand. This tradition has deep roots, since in many languages ​​the ring finger is called the “ring finger”. In England, Germany, Portugal, Spain and many other Western European countries, it is customary to wear a wedding ring on the left hand. Historians believe that in pre-Christian times, Anglo-Normans wore marriage jewelry on the middle or thumb of the right hand. A little later, with the spread of Christianity, the hand was changed from the “main” right to the “minor” left, symbolizing the woman’s subordination to her husband. In addition, Turks, French, Belgians and residents of Switzerland wear a wedding ring on their left hand. It is believed that the tradition came to Turkey from Europe. Some time ago, this country sought to integrate into European society, which is why its inhabitants adopted some cultural nuances. Italians wear a wedding ring on their left hand, while widowers and widowers wear it on their right hand. Traditionally they call this accessory “fede”, however in some regions they say “vera”. This word was borrowed from Slavic languages, and means “loyalty.” Wearing a ring on the right hand symbolizes eternal love.

In South and North America

People came to Canada, the USA, Brazil and other countries in this part of the world from Europe and Asia. In addition, America has an indigenous population. Representatives of various nations brought something of their own to the culture. This is why it is impossible to say for sure how wedding rings are worn in America. For example, in the USA it is customary to wear a wedding accessory on the left hand. In this case, the bride will wear two rings: an engagement ring and a wedding ring, and the groom will only wear one. There is also a tradition of exchanging rings not at the wedding, but before it. During the celebration itself, jewelry is removed from the right hand and put on the left, thereby symbolizing the conclusion of a marriage.

The indigenous population of the United States and Canada adopted the tradition of wearing wedding and engagement rings. Traditionally, the bride and groom in Native American tribes exchanged gifts or simply announced to others that they were now spouses.

Many people believe that Americans wear a wedding ring on their left hand for reasons of convenience. The fact is that in the USA and Canada it is customary to give an accessory with a diamond. Such jewelry is easy to damage and the stone is easy to lose. Therefore, it is worn on the hand that performs fewer functions.

In Asia

Such a tradition as wearing wedding rings on the left hand in Korea, Japan, and China appeared thanks to Europeans. In Asia, they are very fond of rituals and ceremonies, for example, in the Middle Kingdom, a wedding consists of 6 stages, and the bride is even obliged to mourn the loss of loved ones, because she is leaving her family. But there are no traditions about rings. Such jewelry may have been part of wedding gifts or the bride’s dowry, but they are not considered a symbol of love. However, a woman in China is considered the head of the family. Therefore, if the spouses decide to wear wedding rings, then the wife will put it on her right hand, demonstrating her status. A man will have to wear it on his left. In Korea, it is considered mandatory to wear a wedding accessory before leaving the house, whether going to the store or going out with friends. But the hand doesn’t matter. Jewelry on the thumb symbolizes freedom and readiness for a new romantic relationship, so wedding rings are not worn on them. In medieval Japan, such a wedding tradition developed. The groom and his family were expected to present the bride with several gifts. Her relatives also prepared gifts for the chosen one, but about half as much. In modern Japan, this tradition has changed slightly – now the bride gives the groom a ring that is half the price of the one she received from him.

Caucasus and Transcaucasia

The countries of this region were part of the USSR, and some republics remain subjects of the Russian Federation. That is why in most cases rings are worn on the right hand. However, in countries such as Azerbaijan and Armenia, they prefer the left. It is difficult to say unequivocally why this happened, but it is believed that this phenomenon is associated with religion. Representatives of many faiths live in Azerbaijan, but Muslims make up the majority. Islamic sources say that the Prophet Muhammad, the central figure of the religion, wore a ring on his left hand. That’s why Muslims do the same.

These rules do not apply to women. But men have more prohibitions. They are not allowed to wear jewelry on their right hand. In addition, it is prohibited to wear gold accessories.

In Armenia, it is also customary to wear a wedding accessory on the left hand. However, the majority of the population are Christians. It is quite difficult to explain, but there is a possibility that it is a story from the Old Testament. According to this source, Joseph placed a wedding ring on the finger of the Virgin Mary’s left hand.

Near East

In the countries of this region, it is customary to remain engaged for quite a long time. It is believed that in the time before the wedding, the newlyweds will understand whether they are ready for marriage and whether they have made a mistake in their partner. From the time of engagement, lovers wear rings on their right hands, and at the wedding they take them off and put them on their left. Traditionally, Jews place a ring on the index finger of their left hand. At the same time, the Torah says that jewelry for a true believer is prohibited. Therefore, often only the spouse wears a wedding accessory.

These rules apply only to Orthodox Jews. Other believers can put rings on any hand.

There have been a lot of traditions regarding this accessory over its long history. Each country and even small region has its own characteristics. A wedding ring for a woman or man on the ring finger of the left hand can mean belonging to a religious movement, nationality, tradition, but this is not in every case. Sometimes this phenomenon cannot be explained by anything.

Who wears a wedding ring on their right hand

In Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and most other countries of the former Soviet Union, it is customary to wear a wedding accessory on the ring finger of the right hand. It is noteworthy that in Rus’ it was worn on the index finger. It was believed that he was the most noticeable, so this was how his status was demonstrated. The question arises, why do people in Europe wear a wedding ring on the left hand, and in Russia – on the right? The answer most likely lies in the Orthodox religion. In our tradition, it is customary to cross ourselves with the right hand. In addition, left-handers used to be retrained because they considered it wrong to write that way. Obviously, this tradition also affected the wearing of wedding rings. However, it is not only the Slavs who prefer the right hand. For example, in India, Jordan and a number of other countries, the left hand is considered “dirty”. You cannot wear a symbol of eternal love and fidelity on it. In addition, a wedding ring is worn on the right hand in Spain, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and Cuba. And this despite the fact that the majority of the population of these countries are Catholics. Most likely, this is due to the fact that previously only women wore such accessories. In Anglo-Norman society there was a change of hand, but in Latin everything remained the same. Even in Ancient Rome, it was believed that such accessories should be worn on the right hand, since the left one was “unlucky”. In Spain, the tradition was preserved and then transported to South American countries.

10 interesting facts about engagement rings

  1. The first rings were woven from pieces of leather, threads and ropes. They were often decorated with feathers. A little later, wooden and then metal products appeared.
  2. In Ancient Rome, only wealthy citizens could afford gold jewelry. Ordinary people exchanged bronze or iron items at the wedding.
  3. An ancient amethyst ring is kept in the Italian city of Perugia. Christians believe that Joseph put this jewelry on the finger of the Virgin Mary.
  4. The smallest engagement ring in history belonged to Mary Stuart. She was engaged at the age of two, so the jeweler made a tiny piece.
  5. Before World War I, men did not wear wedding accessories. The tradition emerged during this difficult period. Due to homesickness, grueling battles, and constant stay in the trenches, the soldiers’ moral strength was running low. Reminders of a lover, home and peaceful life helped to cope with difficulties. Therefore, the accessory has become very popular.
  6. Despite tradition, many Jewish newlyweds after marriage remove the ring from their left hand and put it on their right. Men also often allow themselves to wear this accessory.
  7. Religion does not always strictly regulate the customs of wearing wedding rings. For example, the Catholic community in Holland believes that the left hand is better suited for this. Representatives of the same denomination in Austria prefer to wear jewelry on their right hand.
  8. In Sri Lanka there was no tradition of exchanging rings, and now it has not taken root much either. But in the American diaspora, a custom arose according to which the husband should wear the accessory on his right hand, and the wife on her left hand.
  9. Many left-handed people wear jewelry on their right hand, regardless of religion or tradition. The fact is that the ring is not cheap, and it is easy to damage it. To preserve the beauty of the product, it is worn on the less active hand.
  10. In Russia, the most popular material for making wedding accessories is 585 gold, in Europe and America – platinum.

There are a huge number of versions explaining the tradition of wearing wedding rings on one hand or another. These can be both religious covenants and secular rules. If you put a sacred meaning into the ring and believe that the accessory will help you build a happy marriage, feel free to follow the traditions. If for you it is just jewelry, wear it so as not to lose or damage it.

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