Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Traditions of the Wedding Ring

wedding ring
My daughter and SIL

Rings as body adornment have been around for quite some time. Close to 5 thousand years ago, we get our first written hit of a circular band for finger wear from the Egyptians. All those thin reeds growing along the river? Not just for weaving baskets, girlfriends. Some ancient enterprising young lass or laddie braided the sedge into jewelry (minus the jewels) and the first known rings became a trend. 

According to their writings on papyrus scrolls, the betrothed couple exchanged these braided rings as a circular symbol of eternal love without end. They placed the rings on the left hand due to the belief that the vein that led to the heart ran from that finger. 

Caveat: I'm sure the cavewomen in their day had their own rockin' styles of body wear, but since they didn't write it down, they get no credit. Document people, document.

Moving on. As can be imagined, the reed rings of the Egyptians weren't exactly made to last. Not to worry. There was plenty of leather around. Rings were also made out of ivory or bone and just like today the more costly the material was apparent proof of how deep the love. 

The Romans put their own spin on ring giving. Maybe "giving" isn't the right word because for them, it was a stamp of ownership, instead of undying love. Ouch. "if you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh."  These betrothal rings were often made of silver and often engraved. They did sport a romantic side with also wearing the ring on the heart vein finger. They termed it vena amoris (vein of love).

It actually beats some of the traditions of the wedding garter. 

It was the Christians around 800 years A.D. that started using rings in the actual wedding ceremonies. The rings were at first very ornate but somewhere along the line some uptight priest decided that was unholy so the rings became more simple, closer to what we have today.

Then when the colonists shipped out to America, the bride was given a thimble by her groom. Yeah, about as exciting as getting a vacuum on your anniversary. But they were puritans so excitement wasn't exactly what they were after. Still wanting a little frivolity or more likely an outward sign that they were a respectable married woman, some of the women took the top of the thimble off and wore them as marriage bands. 

Many cultures throughout the world have their own symbolism, myths, and practices associated with the marital ring. At its core, the circle is a symbol of no endings or  beginnings. One eternal round.  Even the hole symbolized more than dead space, but more of a gateway that led to unknown events. Which, pretty much sums up marriage.  

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Why my sudden interest in bridal traditions? I'm researching for my up-and-coming Chantry Inn series, which will feature several weddings and one long-lost wedding gown. To be notified when these books will be released follow me on Facebook or my newsletter









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