You might notice most brides and grooms, married or engaged couples even dating lovers wear a ring on the same finger of their left hands. However, there are also many of them wearing rings on different hands or fingers. Have you ever wondered why, which finger does a wedding ring go on, or what do people want to say by wearing rings on different fingers? Please keep reading to learn more about the ring finger meaning and any traditions behind it.
- Which Finger Is The Ring Finger?
- History ＆ Meanings of Ring Finger
- Which Hand to Wear Engagement and Wedding Rings？
- History& Tradition of Wedding Rings, Engagement Rings and Promise Rings
- Meanings of Rings on Different Fingers
Which Finger Is The Ring Finger?
Around the world, the fourth finger between the little finger and the middle finger is often designated as the ring finger. Most women wear their wedding, engagement or promise rings on this finger as a commitment for forever love. However, this may vary in cultural traditions. For example, the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger of the left hand in most countries, while in others like India, Germany, Spain, Norway, and Russia, etc, the right hand is regarded as the ring finger hand and a wedding ring is usually worn on the ring finger right hand to symbolize eternity.
History ＆ Meanings of Ring Finger
The ring finger hides a mysterious legend that can be traced back to ancient Roman times when people believed a particular vein existed in that fourth finger that could directly connect to the heart. This was called Vena Amoris, or vein of love by the early Romans. Therefore, the lovers always placed their exchanging rings on that specific finger to connect the two hearts and symbolize the solid love they shared for each other.
However, this romantic legend has been proved to be untrue by the anatomy studies as every finger has such veins connecting to the hearts, not limited to the left-hand fourth finger. The enchanting symbolism might be shattered, but the tradition kept on and lasted for centuries as we all want to believe in love and hope this custom of wearing a ring on this specific ring finger can really solidify the love between two hearts.
Which Hand to Wear Engagement and Wedding Rings？
Traditionally, people wear the engagement or wedding ring on the left hand to follow the custom and take the beautiful wish as we said before, at least in western countries. However, there are some exceptions about the engagement and wedding ring finger hand due to cultural, religious or personal considerations.
First, the left-handers who are used to handle tasks with their left hands may choose the right-hand ring finger as the engagement and marriage finger to commemorate their love, so that their left hands can be free and convenient for any work involving gestures.
Then, religion also plays an important part in switching the engagement or wedding ring to the right hand. For example, the Eastern Orthodox have a tradition to wear their engagement and wedding rings on the right hand. So people with the same faith may continue this tradition by wearing their rings on the right hand.
Besides, we can’t ignore the difference of cultures in wearing a ring. In some cultures, the right-hand ring finger is selected to be the marriage and engagement finger, especially in India, Colombia, Russia, Greece, Poland and many other Eastern European countries. So their wedding or engagement ring usually goes on the right hand. Actually, many countries of these cultures are home to Eastern Orthodox Christians too, so the intertwining religious and cultural traditions make the right hand the choice to wear an engagement or wedding ring.
In addition, some gay couples may also not agree with the left-hand ring finger, and they often wear their rings on the right hand to make a statement of monogamy. People within the gay community may recognize a particular wedding ring finger for men immediately While straight people unfamiliar with this custom may not know it.
Apart from the engagement and wedding ring finger hands above, some brides and grooms now tend to choose their own way of wearing a ring to create or remember a unique meaning for their special love when getting engaged or married. For example, wearing two rings on the pinky finger left hand or a wedding ring on the index finger right hand to symbolize a marriage.
All in all, the engagement and wedding ring is more worn on the left hand, but you’re totally free to wear them any way you like as long as it makes sense to you.
History& Tradition of Wedding Rings, Engagement Rings and Promise Rings
According to archaeological evidence, the wedding ring was first used by Egyptian pharaohs to represent eternity as the circle reflected the shape of the sun and the moon, with no beginning and no end. The open space in the middle of the ring signified a door to the unknown world. In addition, the circle ring was also explained by the Egyptian as a serpent swallowing its tail, symbolizing the eternal cycle of anything. This symbol was carried on to Greek and Roman during wars later and was adopted as a tradition of stating a devotion to lovers. During the European Middle Ages, the circle wedding ring with engraved motifs in different styles had been widely seen in a wedding ceremony, and increasingly went east from then on until became very popular later.
The engagement ring has a tradition stretching back to ancient Egyptian and Roman cultures too where a circle ring was offered by a notable man to a woman as a symbol of the binding promise or the ownership of women as property. With historical development, the engagement ring has also evolved from a braided reed ring, bone and copper ring and iron ring to a silver and gold ring nowadays associating with engagement or marriage, though the specific and exact intentions behind those rings may have been lost a lot in history.
The promise ring is often given as a gifting item to symbolize a special relationship, a promise of future engagement and a love commitment to a partner today. Actually, they have emerged since ancient Roman times during the 2nd century BC when the couples were required by the law to wait a certain period of time from establishing the lover relationship or announcing a marriage desire to a marriage ceremony itself. So the promise ring, similar to an engagement ring, was given as a symbol of a promise of future marriage. This tradition has carried on from generations into modern times, sometimes changing the meaning or melting with other traditions with its rising popularity and evolving styles and materials.
Meanings of Rings on Different Fingers
A ring may tell a lot about yourself from your marital status to your personality and professions based on history, tradition, culture and your belief. Let’s see the general meaning of wearing it on different fingers.
Lefty Pinky Finger: Two rings on this left pinky finger may indicate a man married, usually a wedding ring on the bottom and a signet ring on top. However, a pinky ring may also be related to an organized crime culture, which was resulted from some crime dramas.
Left Ring Finger: The left ring finger is mostly reserved for the wedding, engagement or promise ring to symbolize a commitment for long-lasting love. Besides, some people may also wear a purity or chastity ring on this finger to show their belief in abstinence before marriage.
Left Middle Finger: There is no clear meaning for a ring on this finger so you may show off your beautiful ring here without portraying any other intentions. But, someone may wear a ring on this digit to represent power, responsibility, balance or soul-searching as this is the boldest finger.
Left Index Finger: A ring on the index finger may represent loyalty which derives from an old tradition of visitors kneeling and kissing the king or queen’s rings on their index fingers to show respect. But now, this place is more used to stack unique styled or high-impact rings.
Left Thumb: A ring on the thumb may not relate with any relationship status or other important parts in life, but a class statement to show your wealth or a symbol to show your confidence and fashion taste in life.
Right Thumb: Similarly, this finger is to show social status especially for men, but more used to show a fashion statement. So just show your favorite fashion rings of any meaning here.
Right Index Finger: A single female or male sometimes wears a ring on this finger to show their single marital status. But this isn’t a fixed rule to follow for single people, because some cultures even take this finger as the married ring finger, especially the traditional Jewish always consider this finger the proper place for their wedding rings, though some may move it to the left ring finger after a marriage ceremony. Anyway, you can wear any ring here if you’re not limited to these cultures.
Right Middle Finger: There is no special interpretation for wearing a ring here just the same as the left middle finger. You’re free to wear any fashion or diamond rings on this prominent finger to create your own meaning.
Right Ring Finger: Some countries use this right ring finger the same way as the left ring finger used in other countries. These countries include but not limited to Russia, India, Germany and so on.
Right Pinky Finger: A ring on this finger usually has the same meaning as on the left pinky finger. However, some graduates of a particular set of professions like engineering and ecology also wear a pinky ring to represent their professions or specific degrees in that field.
To wrap up, our fourth fingers are more believed as the ring finger though some agree with the left ring finger and some prefer the right ring finger. The ring meaning varies with different fingers, but modern life and belief lend you more flexibility to wear a ring in your own way. At last, Hope this article can also help you get a better understanding of wearing rings.