Aside from the gorgeous wedding gown and the breathtaking reception venue, at the core of every wedding day lie a variety of cultural traditions that make each and every wedding ceremony and reception as unique as the couple themselves. There is however one undeniable common denominator to the millions of wedding ceremonies that take place all around the world. It is the most recognized symbol of love that a couple cherishes and keeps long after their wedding day. They wear it with pride and it is a constant reminder of their love and commitment to each other.
The global common denominator that transcends cultural and religious differences is the wedding ring. So how did something as small as a wedding ring come to mean so much? Well, it happens to be a piece of jewelry with a tremendously rich and long history. A history that began in the deserts of North Africa with the ancient Egyptian civilization.
At the time, the ancient Egyptian civilization developed along the luscious flood plains of the Nile River. To the Pharaoh’s people, the river was a source of great fortune and life. In fact, the very first wedding rings were fashioned from plants growing along its banks. Growing alongside the ever-popular papyrus were sedges and reeds that were twisted and braided into rings for fingers.
For Egyptians and many ancient cultures, the ring of course is a circle and the circle was a symbol of eternity. Just like time, it has no beginning and no end; and much like life, it returned to itself. The shape was also worshipped in the form of the Sun and the Moon. Even the empty center of the ring held great meaning: It is the symbol of the gateway leading to events both known and unknown. This is precisely how the ring began to be associated with love in hopes that this great emotion would take on the characteristics of the circle and be captured for eternity.
The ancient Egyptians wore the ring just like we do today, on the third finger of the left hand. They believed that particular finger has a vein that connects directly to the heart. The Greek later took on this legend when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. The Greek then passed it on to the Romans who called it the ‘vena amoris’, which is Latin for the ‘vein of love’.
These early rings lasted about one year before wear and tear took their toll. It wasn’t long before some decided that they wanted longer lasting material like leather, bone or ivory to craft their token of love.
To this day, the wedding ring is a universal token of love that, as history dictates, was born with the start of civilization. Just like the emotion it represents, the wedding ring and its significance continue to stand the test of time.
Do you have a favourite Wedding Tradition? Please share below! We’d love to hear it!