I finally have my wedding ring back on my finger. Some of you may remember that on a muddy day last spring I slipped and fell while I was walking and broke my ring finger. It was panic time since I was on a deadline rush for my last story and had to wear a metal finger guard for weeks. I managed to type with unexpected ease with just three fingers. Well, seven fingers counting both hands and can’t forget those thumbs although I really only use my right thumb for the space bar. Interesting, I never thought about that before. Anyway I did get the story written.
You may also remember that when I went to the doctor to get the mashed finger stitched back together, I struggled to get my ring off. My knuckles have gotten bigger through the years and my wedding ring which I hadn’t taken off for many of those years had practically grown into my skin. I almost pulled off that finger but I did get the ring off before the doctor found the ring cutters. You hate to lose a ring that represents so many years of marriage.
After my finger healed, I didn’t force the ring back on. I’m not sure I could have. So last month I finally got around to having the ring enlarged and it’s back on my ring finger, left hand. That got me curious about the origins, history and symbolic meaning of a wedding ring.
This is the first thing I found. We exchange rings when we marry since a circle has no beginning or end and is therefore a symbol of infinity. It is endless, eternal, just the way love should be. Isn’t that a lovely thought for a wedding ring?
Some believe the oldest recorded exchange of wedding rings happened in ancient Egypt, about 4800 years ago when people twisted and braided various plant material into rings and other jewelry. It wasn’t until 860 that Christians began using the ring in marriage ceremonies. Those early rings were said to be very ornamental, but a few centuries later, the church condemned such ornamentation as something those they considered heathens might wear. The rings then were simplified and became simple bands of gold that perhaps resemble our traditional wedding rings of today.
For many the wedding ring is worn on the third finger of the left hand. Some think this goes back to the Romans who believed the vein in this finger led directly to the wearer’s heart. Scientists have proved this wrong, but romantic traditions die hard. Actually there are other theories of why we wear our wedding bands on the third finger of the left hand.
One makes it a Christian custom. As the priest recited during the ceremony,”In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, he would take the ring and touch the thumb, the index finger, and the middle finger; then, while uttering “Amen”, he would place the ring on the bride’s ring finger, thus sealing the marriage. Of course in our modern ceremonies it’s the bride and groom who exchange rings and slip them on each other’s fingers. Ring finger on the left hand. But it wouldn’t be called the “ring” finger if that wasn’t where the ring was traditionally worn, would it?
Yet another more practical explanation that leaves out romance is that since the majority of people are right-handed, the third finger on the left hand was chosen because it was the least used finger other than the pinkie finger. The pinkie ring would be too small for much ornamentation. Thus the third finger was chosen to protect the ring from the wear and tear of daily wear.
Practical or romantic, the wedding ring is a cherished part of our marriage ceremonies and a symbol of the promise of love. I like the idea of a circle of love and how that circle expands to include the children that bless your union. And on and on through the generations. A circle of love, never ending.
It’s good to once more be able to wear the symbol of the promises my husband and I made when we stood before a preacher all those years ago. “With this ring, I thee wed.”
My mom used to take her rings off and only wear them when she went places. I did that at first after I married, but then I left the wedding ring on all the time and sometimes wore the engagement ring when I went somewhere. I’ve never liked wearing rings. I don’t know why. Maybe I thought it slowed my fingers down typing. 🙂 What about you? Do you like wearing rings?