Which Hand Does A Wedding Ring Go On?

These days it is normal for men to wear wedding rings. So much so, that the omission of a wedding ring from the hand of a married man may cause eyebrows to rise and even perhaps suggest an underhand motive! Take Prince William for example, the press made much of the fact that he announced that he wasn’t going to wear a ring and when they pressed him for an answer, he simply stated that jewellery wasn’t really his thing.

It is customary in the West to wear wedding rings on the ring finger of the left hand.

Only a few generations ago men were in the minority if they wore a wedding ring but nowadays men are happy to wear wedding rings alongside other items of jewellery. But which hand does a wedding ring go on? Over the next couple of paragraphs, we will unpick the reasons behind wearing rings and hopefully present you with the answer to your question “Which hand does a wedding ring go on?”

It was the Ancient Egyptians who started the tradition of wearing wedding rings. These old romantics exchanged bracelets and wrist chains to declare their commitment to one another and to cement their relationships. Over time these bands, representing the bond between two people worn on the wrist, evolved. They became smaller and were then worn as finger adornments or union rings. The Egyptians believed the circle to be a hugely symbolic shape. By its very nature, the circle has a never-ending structure. Its form goes on and on and it was this eternal circular motion that the Egyptians recognised as representative of the eternal nature of a couple’s union.  The ring, a circle representing the endless commitment and complete devotion and, rather poetically, the space in the middle of the ring was seen to be a gateway to the couple’s new life together.

Did The Egyptians Question Which Hand Does A Wedding Ring Go On?

These Ancient lovers from the Middle East may also have been responsible for the tradition of wearing a wedding ring on your left hand as they believed in Vena Amoris.

Vena Amoris is Latin of course and translates as “vein of love” Traditionally it was thought that this vein ran directly from heart, down the left arm to the fourth finger of the left hand.  This sentimental theory was first adopted by Western cultures contemplating which hand does a wedding ring go on and gradually the trend grew so that for the majority, wedding rings representing a binding pledge between newly united couples were worn on the fourth finger of the left hand.  So much so, in fact that in this modern age this finger is even referred as the ‘Ring Finger’.

However, the simple fact is that there isn’t a right answer to the question which hand does a wedding ring go on and it depends on many factors such as culture, beliefs, or practical reasons such as hand dominance or even good old-fashioned preference!

10 to 12 percentage of the world’s population is lefthanded. It is understandable then that these people might not want to wear their wedding rings on the hand that does most of the activity especially if they use their hands to earn a living. If their left hand is the dominant hand, they might therefore choose to wear their rings on the right hand and limit the damage or wear and tear those daily activities may cause.

For practical reasons wedding rings can be worn on the less dominant hand

Culture Also Plays A Part In Choosing Which Hand Does A Wedding Ring Go On.

Culture also plays a part in choosing which hand does a wedding ring go on. In some countries such as India or the Arab states culture dictates that the left hand should be used only for personal hygiene and is therefore considered to be unclean. Eating and shaking hands is carried out by the right hand so in these countries wedding rings are worn on the right hand as to wear such virtuous items of jewellery on the hand used for toileting is rather unappealing.

Religion of course plays a large part when it comes to deciding which hand does a wedding ring go on. The Jewish tradition finds the wedding ring placed on the index finger of the right hand during the wedding ceremony as it is considered that this finger is closest to the heart. Interesting however due to the fact that is it customary in the West to wear wedding rings on the left hand, many move the ring to the left hand ring finger after the wedding ceremony.

It’s hard to believe that it is only relatively recently that same-sex marriage was illegal in the UK (In 2013, Parliament passed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act which introduced civil marriage for same-sex couples in England and Wales) However, many couples expressed their love and commitment to each other with the exchange of rings.  These were usually worn on the right hand and were an instantly recognizable indication of a monogamous relationship. Interestingly though since the ruling that legalised same-sex marriage, LGBT couples seem to be adopting the more traditional method concerning which hand does a wedding ring go on by wearing their wedding rings on the left had to represent their equality in marriage to all other marriages.

Some Orthodox Christians place their wedding rings on their right hands. Due to the Latin word ‘sinister’ meaning “on the left side.” It was initially thought that the left hand had negative connotations and was believed to have ominous or even menacing associations. This perception of the left hand being somewhat ill-omened created the belief that the right hand was purer in some way and therefore the wedding rings were placed on this hand.

The tradition of placing wedding rings on the right hand is also present in the Greek Orthodox religion.  During the wedding ceremony, the wedding rings are blessed by the Priest three times. Once in the name of the Father, another for the Son, and the last of course for the Holy Spirit. The Priest then places the rings on the Bride and Groom’s right hands. In this instance, it’s not due to the left hand being unclean or unworthy, its simply the belief that the right hand represents virtue and honour  just as the Bible mentions Jesus sitting at the right hand of God.

Religion and culture all have bearing on which hand a wedding ring is worn

All Things Considered, There Isn’t A Straightforward Answer To The Question Which Hand Does A Wedding Ring Go On?

It could be religion, culture or plain preference that drives the decision. Whether it’s the left or right hand, what really matters is the symbolic meaning behind the giving and wearing of the wedding rings. Love, devotion, trust and commitment are the values that the ring represents, and no matter which finger is chosen as the one to wear the ring on its really about the sentiment rather than its positioning.

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