by Wedding Shoppe Blogger: Meghan J. December 22, 2009 @ 11:23 amWedding Traditions
Congratulations! You’re engaged! He gave you a beautiful engagement ring as a symbol of his love and devotion… but have you ever wondered: Why a ring? Where did today’s wedding ring traditions come from, and when did it start? Ever wonder “why gold and diamonds?”? (Not that I’m complaining!) Well, wonder no more, because My Wedding Chat is here to give you a quick rundown of the history of wedding rings, and a quick explanation of the meaning behind today’s wedding ring traditions.
Wedding Traditions: The Origin of the Wedding Ring
Many of the wedding traditions that we follow today date back to centuries past, while others are only a few years old. The exchanging of rings (depending on which explanation you believe) is one of the oldest marital traditions around.
One version of the origin of the wedding ring states that, during prehistoric times, the groom would bind the bride’s ankles and wrists with grass, to keep her soul from escaping (some say it was really to keep her from running away!). Once the ceremony was complete, he would remove the rope, and tie it to one of her fingers. This tradition gradually evolved from grass, to rope, to leather, and finally, to a metal band.
Another story comes from the ancient Romans, who placed a ring on the third finger, because it was believed to house the “Vena Amoris” or the “Vein of Love,” which ran directly to the heart. They chose the left hand, because the heart was then believed to be on the left side of the chest. These traditions were spread ’round the world, as new lands were discovered; thus, we have the tradition of the wedding band that is still highly recognized today across many religions and cultures.
So, where did the diamond craze come from, you ask? The first recorded diamond engagement ring was given in the year 1477, by the Archduke of Hammond. This was likely not the very first, but it did spark the trend, among those who could afford such finery. Diamonds were chosen, because of their rarity and exquisite, sparkling characteristics. A diamond is the hardest and strongest mineral on earth, and is nearly indestructible. It symbolizes forever. The diamond trend didn’t really catch on until the 1700’s, and in the 1800’s, the diamond engagement ring became widespread, as new mines were discovered, causing the cost of diamonds to drop to more affordable prices. Today, diamonds are still the most commonly used stone for engagement and wedding rings, for both men and women; and have become the most widespread of all wedding ring traditions.A Girl’s Best Friend: More on the History of Wedding Rings
Mens Wedding Rings
But what about mens wedding rings, aren’t they a man’s best friend? Speaking of mens wedding rings, they’re one of the fairly new marriage traditions in America, especially compared with women’s rings. In ancient Egypt, rings fashioned out of natural materials were exchanged by both the man and the woman, to show their never-ending love. In America, and throughout history, men were recognized as the dominant sex, and didn’t feel the need to show dedication to a woman (insert eye-roll here). It wasn’t until World War II, that men started wearing wedding bands to remind them of their wives back home. It was also a way to show their commitment to their wives, while overseas (okay, now they’re forgiven). Men’s wedding rings were largely popular among military men, but it wasn’t until after the Korean War, that they started to become popular among civilians. Today, men’s wedding rings range in style, from simple to extravagant, and have as many different styles and customizations as women’s rings.
Now that you know more about the origin of the wedding ring, you may never look at yours the same way again! It is more than a shiny rock to show off to your friends, or a band that looks awfully similar to a ball and chain. It is a symbol of a love that has grown through the years, and will truly last a lifetime.