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The History Of The Wedding Ring
By Kirsten Hawkins, Sat Dec 10th

The use of the wedding ring as a symbol of the bond betweenhusband and wife is familiar to us as the concept of marriageitself, but from where did this interesting tradition emerge?The history of wedding rings as they are known today is actuallyunclear. In an article dating from the July 1869 issue ofAppleton's Journal of popular Literature, Science, and Art,Edward J. Wood hypothesizes that the modern (modern as of 1869)use of wedding rings stems from the practices of ancientHebrews. It was customary for the family of a prospective groomto give gifts to the potential bride and her family. The generalassumption is that it is from this tradition that the use ofwedding rings as we know them seems to have evolved.

Wedding rings are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, butreferences do exist that suggest the aforementioned Hebrewpractices. Genesis 24:53 in the King James Version reads, "Andthe servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold,and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to herbrother and to her mother precious things," speaking of theservant of Abraham, the father of Isaac, who was to wed Rebekah.The wedding ring first came into use in Christian weddingceremonies around 870 A.D.

The tradition of wearing a wedding ring on the fourth finger ofthe left hand also comes from the ancients. In ancient Greece itwas believed that an artery from that particular finger leddirectly to the heart. While we now know this is pure mythology,it does serve as a rather romantic explanation for thetradition.

Although the concept of the is obviously very old,the ring was almost always worn by the bride. Double-ringwedding ceremonies are rather new. Wedding rings for men werealmost unheard of before 1940 and increased in use about thetime of the Second World War. According to an October 1953 storyin Hobbies, only about 15% of wedding ceremonies included a ringfor the groom. After the start of World War II, the percentagejumped to 60%, and then to 70% after the start of the Koreanwar. Today it is more common than not for grooms and bridesalike to wear a wedding ring.

So, why a wedding ring, as opposed to, say, a wedding braceletor necklace? Religious ceremonies usually include a mention bythe officiating clergyman of the ring's unending circle beingrepresentative of both God's perfect love for humanity and themarrying couple's undivided devotion to one another.

While the precise origin of the wedding ring is unclear and lostto history, today we recognize the wedding ring as a symbol ofthe unity of marriage. The couples of today also generallychoose their wedding rings together, thus adding to the personalsymbolism that the jewelry carries for them. Additionally, thewedding ring serves as a social symbol in today's world,signifying to others that this man or woman is "spoken for."


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