The wedding ring on the ring finger: That’s what’s behind it

Gold ring

Rings are among the most popular pieces of jewelry. Rings always look good on other fingers too. © Git Stephen Gitau, (CC0)

Rings are a symbol of eternity. The pieces of jewelry are therefore exchanged at the wedding in many countries and cultures. The fact that the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger goes back to old myths. But ring etiquette doesn't just apply to engagements and weddings. Even in everyday life, a ring on your finger always has a very specific meaning.

The wedding ring goes on the ring finger: But why is that?

For many years, married couples have exchanged rings at their wedding. It goes without saying that the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger. The customs are well known, but only a few couples know the background. It is a long tradition that the wedding ring cannot be worn on the thumb or index finger. The origins go back to ancient Rome and the Greeks. Already applied back then noble rings made of gold, silver or set with diamonds as a symbol of infinity. Rings have neither a beginning nor an end. This is intended to symbolize eternal love and always be worn visibly.

Long ago it was believed that the ring finger was directly connected to the heart via a vein. Appropriately, this vein was given the name “Vena Amoris,” which means love vein in German. Due to a medical error, the wedding ring found its place on the ring finger. As medicine advanced, it was possible to prove that the ominous vein between the ringer's finger and the heart does not even exist. But the ancient Romans and Greeks at least had a sense of romance. The tradition is still practiced in many cultures today and the ring finger even gets its name from the pieces of jewelry and symbols of love. The Due to evolution, the ring finger has no task of its own and only serves as a gripping aid. It was therefore decorated with jewelry early on.

Left or right? A question of customs!

There is no obligation to wear the wedding ring on the left or right hand. Since the “Vena Amoris” has turned out to be a myth, the wedding ring is now often worn on the right hand in some countries. Right-handed people in particular have the opportunity to show off the wedding ring better. Because then the right hand is dominant and simply more active in everyday life.

Whether it's right or left, sometimes it's simply a matter of custom. In Germany and Austria people tend to wear a wedding ring on the right ring finger. In Switzerland, however, the symbol of eternal love is worn on the left ring finger. Christians in particular often consciously wear their wedding ring on their right hand. A line from the Bible says that good awaits on the right and bad awaits on the left. Which hand you ultimately wear the wedding ring on is purely a matter of taste.

The meaning of each finger: symbol and myth, but not science

The ring finger is reserved primarily for engagement and wedding rings. If rings are worn on other fingers, this should also carry a certain symbolism.

The thumb is intended to convey strength of character. A ring symbolizes above all willpower and strength of thought. The index finger, on the other hand, represents ambition and loyalty. To this day, signet rings are preferred to be worn on this finger. The signet ring proudly displays the initials or even a family coat of arms. The ring etiquette here also states that the ring is turned towards the other person. The seal must therefore correctly point in the direction of other people. The middle finger conveys individuality, while a ring on the little finger represents intellect and communication skills. However, there is no well-founded science behind the alleged radiation of individual rings.

Why do people cling to myths and superstitions?

There are numerous myths and customs surrounding the wedding ring. If the ring is lost, it is said to herald an end to the marriage. If the wedding ring is put on the best friend's hand, the husband is encouraged to cheat. What is actually just nonsense is still haunting many people's minds. To understand the appeal of myths and superstitions, one must delve into the human psyche. Insecurity and loss of control can be quite attractive in small doses.

Researchers have also found that everyone is susceptible to superstitions and myths. This in turn is due to evolution. As early as the 1940s, experiments showed that animals can also react superstitiously. In one series of experiments, food was provided at equal intervals. Many animals began to repeat their own behavioral patterns in order to be able to trigger further food rations. The experiment was criticized for a long time. However, similar behavioral patterns were also found in additional studies with children between 3 and 6 years old. Nowadays it is proven that even animals can exhibit superstitious behavior.

The ring etiquette: That's why it applies especially to men

Rules of conduct generally always apply to both genders. But when it comes to ring etiquette, women are usually ignored. However, this is not due to gender inequalities. Rather, women can wear their rings without any “rules”. Whether thumb or little finger, just one piece of jewelry or several rings on top of each other. Almost every accessory flatters feminine hands. For men, however, the following often applies: less is more.


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