The wedding ring, that most famous and instantly recognizable symbol of the
(hopefully perpetual) joining of a man and a woman as husband and wife in the
institution of marriage, has a long, wide spread and mysterious history. Its
beginnings lie in the deserts of North Africa, where the ancient Egyptian
civilization sprang up along the fertile flood plains of the river Nile. This
river was bringer of all fortune and life to the Pharaoh’s people and from
plants growing on its’ banks were the first wedding rings fashioned. Sedges,
rushes and reeds, growing alongside the well-known papyrus were twisted and
braided into rings for fingers and larger bracelets for wrists.
The ring is of course is a circle and this was the symbol of eternity for the
Egyptians as well as many other ancient cultures. It had no beginning and no
end, like time. It returned to itself, like life; and the shape was worshipped
in the form of the Sun and the Moon. The hole in the center of the ring is not
just space either; it is important in its own right as the symbol of the
gateway, or door; leading to things and events both known and unknown.
It is not difficult therefore, to see how the ring and the gift of a ring
began to be associated with love, in the hope that this most worthy of emotions
could take on the characteristics of the circle and capture eternity.Why the 3rd Finger?
They wore it like we do today, on the third finger of the left hand, because of a belief that the vein of that finger directly traveled from the heart. This legend was later taken up by the Greeks, when they conquered Egypt under thegeneralship of Alexander the Great in 332 B.C. and from them passed onto the Romans, who called this the ‘vena amoris’, which is Latin for ‘the vein oflove’.