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Matching Rings as symbols What does the exchange of a ring mean?

Since the beginning of time rings were exchanged during marriage ceremonies. Wedding rings, that had different meanings in the past, are now thought of as a symbol of affection, loyalty and commitment within the context of a relationship. This article will give you everything you need about wedding rings and their symbolism. It also explains the customs associated with ring exchange.

Wedding rings as symbols - an introduction to the history of wedding rings

In ancient times only one ring would be given to the bride on the day of marriage. This was meant to signal that the woman was part of an individual or family. The ring was often used to show that the man received the woman's inheritance. The ring was generally made of iron and was only given to the woman.

In 855, the custom of exchanging rings was reversed. Pope Nicholas I declared that the ring was a Christian symbol of eternal love, marriage and eternity. The couple of the future put the ring on each other's fingers during the wedding ceremony, and they promised the other a lifetime of love and fidelity before God.

The wedding ring has been an essential element of marriage at least since the 13th century. Since since then, the wedding ring is a symbol of love and loyalty in the marriage. In the past, wedding rings were only exchanged during weddings in the church. The newlyweds have been putting rings on one another's hands in the registry office for a long time.

Why is the ring the symbol of marriage?

The infinity of marriage is symbolized by the single ring that has its unbroken curve. The two rings intertwined on the other hand, symbolise the deep bond that exists between couple, which can only be broken in the event that one of the rings were destroyed. The two-in-one ring is often used as a symbol or a logo for everything related to the wedding.

The exchange of rings: customs and superstition

There are certain customs that relate to the exchange of rings but there is also a bit of superstition. Learn about the most famous ones below.

Which hand is the ring worn?

The answer to this question is different from one country to the next. While in Germany, it is typically worn on the right hand, in other countries such as Italy or the USA it is more commonly worn on the left hand.

The ancient Romans also wore the wedding rings on the left hand, since they believed that a so-called vein of love ran from the left ring finger directly to the heart. However, each couple must decide for themselves which ring are to be placed.

Wearing the identical rings

One tradition that is not widely known is the custom of wearing the same wedding rings. According to this, newlyweds should wear the same ring as much as possible - made from the same wedding ring material, with the same style, etc. Only the size can of course vary. This is an indicator of agreement within the family as well as the bond that couples create at the time of the wedding.

The decision to agree on wedding rings that are exactly the same in design and style is also regarded as the initial test of the marriage. Individual interests and tastes are put aside for the sake of the partnership and decisions are made in the spirit of "we".

Do not wear a different person's wedding rings

According to another custom, wedding rings should always be brand new and never worn by anyone else. The belief is that wearing someone else's wedding ring could bring bad luck to the couple. In the same way, one's wedding rings should never be given to other people. It is said that if a friend wears one's wedding band, the couple will cheat.

What is the purpose of putting rings on

The ceremony of putting on rings is believed to reveal something about the future relationship in the marriage. It is believed, among other things that if the ring fits effortlessly and smoothly over the woman's hand, the man is the one who has the upper hand in the relationship. However, if it stays in the middle of the ring finger, women have the final say.

Loss of wedding engagement ring

Another belief states that the wedding band shouldn't be thrown away or lost, because it could bring bad luck or even the end of the marriage.

Religious traditions behind the ring exchange

There are different customs for exchanging rings, based on the religion of the person. Learn more about this below.

Wedding rings in Christianity

In many Christian church writings the two intertwined ring symbols are used to symbolize marriage. The only method to break the link was if either ring were broken. This symbolises "until death do us part'. Before the vows are exchanged the rings are blessed, followed immediately by the exchange of rings. The bride and groom are then blessed.

Wedding rings in Judaism

In the traditional Jewish wedding the bride receives the so-called wedding rings from her husband beneath the chuppah or wedding canopy. Tradition dictates that it has to be plain - without a engraving, stone or any other details. The bride is not allowed to place a ring on the groom's finger underneath the chuppah.

After the wedding, the bride is allowed to be presented with a ring adorned with a wedding ring from her newlywed husband - and she's also able to gift a ring her spouse.

Wedding rings in Islam

In Islam, the actual ceremony of wedding is usually fairly simple. It is not uncommon for just two people get married and for two witnesses to be present in front of the imam to declare their intention to marry. The celebrations following are crucial to numerous couples and can be extended for a number of days.

Muslim couples also put rings on their hands to mark their wedding. According to the Koran Men are not allowed to wear rings made of gold. Wedding rings are more likely to consist from materials like titanium, palladium or platinum.


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