Why do we exchange rings?
Rings have become a staple in most modern-day weddings, but have you ever thought why we exchange rings?
Well, it dates to around 3000BC in Ancient Egypt. Yes, these people may be known for their brutal treatment of slaves, their love of cats and their obsession with pulling peoples brains out of their noses post death, but, as it turns out, they were quite the romantics.
They are speculated to have created wedding bands out of braided reeds or hemp but were later replaced by sturdier material such as leather or bone. What hasn’t changed much is the location of the ring. Back in the day it was believed that the 4th finger had a vein which connected directly to the heart – The Vena Amoris! (Vein of love). We have since discovered that this is complete rubbish, but we still enjoy the sentiment.
But WHY do we exchange rings?
Well this is were it gets a bit muddy. The more romantic among us believe it is a symbol of never-ending love. A ring has no beginning and no end and so goes round for eternity. It was exchanged to show how much we mean to each other. This is a beautiful thought and is likely the reason we keep the ring exchange alive today, but unfortunately the exchanging of the ring was not always done for love.
In some cultures, it was a contract and given to the father as payment for the bride. I know, history never fails to surprise us with its never-ending supply of depressing facts! It is true that marriage wasn’t always done for love, but for the greater good of the family. It was political and very much a business deal. Rings were also only worn by women originally, as a sort of symbol of ‘ownership’…
I know what you are thinking, but when faced with these types of facts I like to remind myself that we have come so far since these times and we now commonly see both genders wearing rings as a symbol of love and devotion or if they decide, they don’t have to wear a ring at all! It is up to each individual couple.