Why wedding rings are worn on the left hand and other cultural traditions

October 11, 2017

Have you ever wondered why most of us wear engagement and wedding rings on the third finger of the left hand? The first time we were curious about this, we dug a little deeper to find out why. To our surprise, we discovered quite a romantic story is hidden behind this tradition.

In western culture, the tradition of the bride wearing her engagement and wedding ring on her left hand has been embedded in tradition for centuries now. The tradition is traced all the way back to Ancient Roman times when the Romans believed that the vein in the third finger ran directly to the heart. They named this vein the “vena amoris” translated to the vein of love and, hence, began the tradition of placing the engagement/wedding ring on this finger to symbolise eternal love between two people.

This tradition was adopted and upheld across much of the western world. However, there are different traditions from other cultures, let’s take a look at a few of these:

  • In Jewish tradition, the wedding ring is historically a plain gold ring and presented initially to be won on the index finger. The idea behind wearing it on the pointed finger is that she will be able to show off the ring more easily. In more contemporary customs, following the ceremony, the ring is moved to the third finger on the left hand.
  • In Muslim culture, a wedding ring is not a traditional part of the ceremony. However, in modern weddings, some couples choose to include this tradition and wear the ring on either the left or the right hand.
  • Ancient Indian culture also has no custom of a ring being presented. However, like in modern Muslim culture, this tradition has been adopted by many. Some believe it to be inauspicious to wear a ring on the left hand however, women will often wear a ring on the left hand and men will commonly wear theirs on the right hand.
  • Many European countries such as Greece, Denmark, Hungary, Austria, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Poland, wear the wedding ring on the right hand.
  • In Germany and Netherlands, traditionally engagement rings are worn on the left hand and wedding rings are worn on the right hand to signify the change in cultural status.

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