Wedding Rings: History of the Eternal Ring

It seems your lil fairies got to like a little dust off of history books (cf. Historic Curiosities: Origin and Meaning of the Engagement Ring) because once again, like two real Indiana Jones, put their hearts into the laborious research about the origins of the wedding rings.

Are you ready for a jump into the past?

dextrarum-iunctio

What’s clear is that marriage didn’t have any romantic implications in ancient times, indeed it was considered to be an agreement between two families, sealed by a formal contract, and with the aim of bearing children. The much-used expression “ask for someone’s hand in marriage” means precisely this step: it derives from the Latin cum manu and indicates that in marriage the bride — her father’s potestas (literally property) — passes into the hands of her husband (while marriage sine manu left the bride under the patria potestas). In a nutshell, it means you future husband is asking to become your “owner”! We’re sure that you will think twice before using this term again…

 

sposi-antico-egittoThe earliest evidence of the existence of wedding rings can be found in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome even if It’s hard to imagine a true exchange of rings in the three ancient cultures. For example, in Rome marriage was meant sealed only upon signing a contract and with a simple shake of hands (dextrarum iunctio).

Rings, however, have always had a strong symbolic value and in Egypt, for example, they were usually worn on the left ring finger because ancients thought that it was directly connected to the heart by the vena amoris (the vein of love). This tradition is definitely much more romantic!

During the Middle Ages the use of wedding rings becomes common, with a slight variation: the ring passes to the right hand (same finger, though!). It’s only in the seventeenth century that the tradition brings the ring back to the ring finger of the left hand. Still nowadays this is not a rule since the side depends on the country of origin of the spouses. The use of gold for the rings, instead, was introduced by the Christian culture as a symbol of eternity (before rings were made of iron!).

Dear weds-to-be, we’re sure that after reading this little historical compendium, you will look at your enchanting wedding rings with very different eyes!
Marion for the Wedding Fairies

fedi