For a long time, a wedding ring has been a symbol of the bond of loving hearts, holding together sacred indestructible bonds. Over the course of many hundreds of years, it has undergone a tremendous amount of change: its shape, material, and even its meaning. On which hand and on which finger was the wedding ring worn initially, and how did these traditions change? Have they survived today?
From the history of the emergence of wedding rings
In fact, in order to understand which finger a wedding ring is worn on, and why it is customary to do this, it is necessary to turn to the meaning of this jewelry and its connection with the family institution. Moreover, not all nations were originally from the beginning of the union when the marriage element was the rings. So why exactly are they?
- During the times of worshiping pagan gods, people sought protection from evil forces and, for this purpose, they tied up the wrist or ankle, preventing the outflow of life from the body. Linen ropes or strong grass stalks were used as charms. At the same time at the time of the ceremony, the husband put bracelets on his hands and feet on his wife, thus worrying about her safety. Later, only hands began to be honored with such an action, and then the bracelets turned into wedding rings.
- The most common is considered to be the legend that the circle, as a symbol of infinity, makes the bonds combined by marriage inseparable, and their connection is not subject to even death. At the same time, the circle lacks a beginning, which corresponds to the old beliefs about the prisoners in heaven alliances, which took their beginning at the bottom of the creation of the world, and this point was never possible to establish with certainty. Therefore, it turned out that this connection is not only eternal, but also above Time itself as a force.
In addition, we must not forget about the ability of the circle to be a talisman. Even in pagan times, the closed line became the boundary from evil spirits, not only in shamanistic rites, but also in everyday life. Thus, a ring worn on a finger made its holder not subject to intangible ill-wishers, and because it was a wedding ring, acted as a defense against what could destroy marriage: the evil influence of others, sinful passions and vices.
And yet, on which finger women wore a wedding ring? The ancient Romans and Egyptians preferred to wear the symbol of marriage to their spouses on the finger of the left hand next to the little finger, referring to its unique connection between the long vein (nerve) and the heart. Other nations called this nerve "residential love", and therefore in every way strengthened the union created from high feelings (and they wanted to turn the pragmatic one into a more pleasant one for the spouses).
However, the legends associated with wedding rings, not always wore a romantic nature: in the Roman Empire, this ornament was a kind of stigma, showing that a woman is not free and belongs to a man. In this case, the “owner” was usually indicated on the ring, and the metal itself was firmly pressed to the finger in order to prevent its removal. But, despite the fact that such a move with respect to a woman may seem barbaric, at the same time he wore a protective function - they did not stick to an alien woman on the streets, fearing for their lives. And in the East, the ring had the most complicated mechanism, the breakdown of which during disclosure signaled treason.
As you can see, for a long time only a woman wore a wedding ring, while a man was either not presented at all at the time of marriage, or was given a weapon to protect his wife. And only after the First World War, the symbol of belonging to the indestructible alliance, the symbol of home, warmth, hope, also appeared among men, who subsequently preserved the tradition of wearing such a valuable rim.
What finger wear a wedding ringin different countries?
To date, most of the main features of this jewelry have remained unchanged. The circle still symbolizes the infinity and eternity of the union, the noble precious metal - purity and holiness. The only thing that happened in a few centuries is the evolution of the appearance of the ring, which, from a simple and somewhat intimate element, has become a real decoration. Today it is decorated with engraving, carving, stones, combinations of various metals. In addition, for some time there was a separation of the engagement (otherwise - engagement) ring and the marriage. The wedding groom handed the bride's parents or herself in the church on the day of the engagement, putting on the ring finger of his right hand, and before the wedding (on the wedding day) it was taken off. Later, in the church in his place, the groom put on another wedding ring. Today, any of these rings can be called a wedding ring, since the Holy Synod in the 18th century united the engagement and the wedding into a single sacrament.
- What remained unchanged (however, not for all countries) is the location of such an important decoration: as before, women and men wear a wedding ring on the ring finger, as a result of which in a number of languages it was called the "ring" or "ring" finger . The exception to this rule was Judaism: Jewish traditions dictate that the spouses exchange rings on their index fingers. It is noteworthy that the Slavs acted in paganism in the same way. But at the same time, although the exchange takes place on the right hand, the decoration is later transferred to the left hand.
- If we look at which hand predominantly “wears” the wedding ring, then there is almost equal division throughout the world: Orthodoxy prescribes using the right hand for this purpose, which is characteristic not only of Russia and some CIS countries, but also of Greece, India, Spain, Serbia and Georgia, Norway and Austria. In this case, the virgin Mary was originally "ringed" by the carpenter Joseph on his left hand, and not with the ring finger, but with the middle finger.
- The East (including Asia), and some European countries (France, Ireland, Sweden), as well as America and Canada, put a wedding ring on their left hand. In Roma, in general, the practice of wearing a ring on a finger is not widespread - they thread a chain through it and hang the necklace as a pendant.
- It is also to be noted that in the Netherlands and Austria, wearing the left-hand engagement ring is practiced only by persons adhering to Catholicism (as well as Protestants). All those who are related to other religions, being citizens of these countries, should show their distinction, putting the cherished symbol of loyalty on the right hand. In England, in the Middle Ages, the ring was not worn for a long time on the thumb (on the average before the reformation), although it was subsequently melted into a different decoration. And in Belgium, the "active" hand determines the region of residence.
About the reason why the wedding ring was originally worn on the left hand, has already been said above. However, for what reason at some point did some countries (and religions) choose to change traditions and transfer the symbol of marriage to the right ring finger? There are also several theories: the least romantic and the most pragmatic is that the right hand is tightly connected with the mind, reason, it is “correct”, and therefore it is responsible for the wisdom of the accomplished act - of defectiveness. In Greece, the Roman tradition operates, according to which the left hand is bad, which means that it rejects all the good and eternal, and the honor to wear the ring is relegated to the right hand.
However, not everywhere the engagement and marriage ring became a single whole: for example, in Argentina, Greece, Poland and Spain, as well as in Germany and sometimes in Russia, the bride donates the ring on the day of the marriage proposal, and after marriage the corresponding decoration goes to the right.
Separately, I would like to say about the metal from which the wedding rings were made: in Russia, the bride was presented with a silver product, which was believed to have a connection with the moon. Later, the most frequently used material was gold, which symbolized the first serious contribution to the wealth of a young family. Today, gold remains a classic, but is often replaced by other metals, far from always - precious. Although not all countries adhere to this rule: Muslim customs do not allow wearing gold rings, but there are no clear rules for choosing a hand for them.
Are there sex differences in wearing a wedding ring?
In most European countries, the bride and groom (and later the husband and wife) are equal, but the countries of the East, including Asia, preserve ancient traditions. As a result, marital differences are noticed not only in the hand chosen for the bond symbol of the union, but also on which finger the man's wedding ring is worn on, and on which finger the woman is worn.
- In China, the girl “marries” on her right hand when entering into marriage, and her husband - on her left. It should be remembered that the people of the East give the leading role to the man while the spouse is engaged in the household, but to maintain warmth in the home, she must be wise and active, and therefore the right hand belongs to her.
But today, traditions are no longer so actively preserved even in countries that have been reading them for a long time, and it is difficult to guess only by the presence of a ring on a certain finger of a certain hand whether a person is married, convenience has changed the rules. In addition, we can not forget that after the death of the spouse, the survivor puts the ring on the other hand.
In conclusion, I would like to note a rather interesting fact: not in all countries the wedding ring is present in a single copy. In Scandinavia, there are as many as 3, with 2 of them familiar to the majority as engagement and marriage, which is sometimes practiced in other countries, and the latter is the ring of motherhood, worn before the moment a newborn appears in the family.