The main cause of exchanging wedding or engagement rings in ancient history

By: Fisher


The tradition of wearing wedding or an engagement ring on the fourth finger stems from a Greek fable. It was said in that fable that a vein i.e. vena amoris or vein of love in that finger is directly connected with heart. Therefore wearing ring specially wedding or engagement ring on that finger would mean long lastingness of your relationship. But in the present age of scientific research and discovery this theory of love has been disqualified by medical researchers and scientific school of thought.

In middle age most of the wedding rings are made up with colorful gemstones. These colorful gems symbolize life. The smallest betrothal ring on record was given to two year old Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII, on the event of her engagement to the infant Dauphin of France, son of King Francis I, in 1518. The tiny gold ring, fitted to her finger, was set with a valuable diamond. Historians are of the belief that the item of betrothal owes its origins not to the metal but papyrus strands of the plant species, twisted so as to form the ring.

This act of exchanging rings is looked at differently in different countries. There are such explanations explaining that this act would legalize the bonding of the men and the women before marriage. Till today this is believed that it is an act of taking lifelong commitment. But some historians believe that this act was also used as a means of claiming the engaged girl a property of the man who had given her the ring. According to the archeological study this customary ritual was first recorded in Egypt. Then this exchanging was viewed as an earthly commitment of never ending love and respect for the ‘would be’ husband and wife. This picture was not always the same for everyone as in other countries this same ritual has a legal bearing with it. In Roman culture this exchange of ring was considered as legal commitment. The custom was like this as a girl accepts this from a man and it becomes his legal right to marry her in the future. The girl is then unable to remove herself after accepting the ring. This brought a change in reason behind the ring presentation, where the rings were presented not out of love but ‘badges of property’. The prospective bride would be fixed and booked to the new home leaving no scope for her to run away. It was very much like booking within the precincts of home for life – property rights as one would call it.

From this tradition we come to know that she becomes bound to marry the particular person whom she has exchange her ring. Keeping this fact in mind the Romans at first made their rings with iron but gradually concerning the beauty and durability they started to make their wedding ring with gold and silver with precious stone embellishments.

This practice of ownership continued through ages in Greek also. Later this custom changed with time and now there is sign of property related with it.

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