Engagement Ring Traditions

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What is the tradition behind giving engagement rings?

Engagement Ring Traditions

In modern, Western countries, engagement rings are worn by women on the ring finger of their left hands and it is a display to the world that she is engaged. The engagement ring is often presented to the prospective bride as a part of his marriage proposal. The ring sliding onto her finger is an indication of her acceptance of his proposal.

Some couples wait until after the woman has said yes before seeking out an engagement ring. Engagement rings are worn on the left-hand ring finger because traditions dating back to classical time refer to the fourth finger of the left hand as containing the vena amoris or vein of love. This vein was said to travel directly to the heart, thus when women wear their engagement rings there, they are binding their promise and oath to their heart.

While not common in the United States, there are male engagement rings. In fact, in Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden, engagement rings are worn by both men and women. In these countries, the engagement rings are typically plain gold or platinum bands. The bands are worn on the right hand until the day of marriage when they are then transferred to the left. Although men wear engagement rings in these countries, it is very rare for them to wear two rings following the wedding. A wife may wear her engagement and wedding rings following the ceremony, but that is a far more typical American-English tradition that has spread to the European continent.



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