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Thursday, December 8, 2016
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The History of the Wedding Band

The History of the Wedding Band

Ready for a little history lesson? Pull up a chair, put that little brain to work, and take in the history of the wedding band. Dating back to the Egyptians, these round metal bands were symbolic of a gateway to events in store for the loving couple. Rich in history, there’s more to these special tokens than you probably ever knew.

A long, long time ago…

  • {Circa 3000 BC} Egyptians reportedly exchanged plants twisted into small circles as wedding bands. Hemp and other plant-sourced rings, however, quickly gave way to more durable materials like bone, leather, and ivory.
  • {Circa 1500 BC}  Metals soon became the obvious choice for construction, but this was pricier and so the change was gradual.
  • {Middle Ages} During wedding ceremonies, English men would first place the band on his bride-to-be’s thumb, then her pointer finger, the middle finger, and finally on her ring finger. While doing so, he would recite:  the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
  • {Circa 200 BC} Today’s gold and silver bands officially entered the scene in Rome. These weren’t given at the ceremony, however, but as the husband carried his new bride across the threshold.
  • {Medieval Europe} Gold bands were predominately exchanged, and often with gemstones in them:  rubies for love, sapphires for the sky and eternity, and diamonds for a love that’s indestructible.
  • {17th Century}  In England and France, ‘posy rings’ made of silver became the height of wedding band fashion. The word ‘posy’ refers to a love poem inscribed inside the band; Shakespeare referenced these.
  • {WWII}  American men began wearing wedding bands during the war in Europe and the Pacific as a reminder of their sweethearts.
  • {Today}  Many Europeans choose to wear their wedding bands on their right ring finger.

Did you know…

  • The Ancient Greeks, later joined by the Romans, considered the vein in the left finger which can be traced to the heart the ‘vena amoris’, or ‘the vein of love’.
  • Historically, Indian brides have received a ‘tamo’: a small golden charm on a necklace, and often toe rings are used instead of finger rings to show a woman’s marital status.
  • According to Jewish faith, a declaration of marriage isn’t legally binding unless something physical is exchanged such as a wedding band. Additionally, some Jewish brides wear their wedding band on their pointer finger.
  • Traditionally, Russian Catholics have worn wedding rings made from three interlocking bands which symbolize the trinity and their faith.
  • Often in Eastern Orthodox Church ceremonies, bands are blessed by the priest and then passed to the best man where he exchanges the bands three times, taking the bride’s band and placing it on the groom’s finger and then hers. This is meant to demonstrate that her weaknesses and imperfections will be made up for by his strengths and perfections, and vice versa, of course.
  • Today, Swedish women often wear three bands: one for engagement, one for marriage, and one for motherhood.

Class dismissed.

(Thanks to Bhldn for this history lesson!)