“Just as the blushing down gives promise of the glory of the sunrise, so the betrothal ring, as the token of a pledge, serves to herald, as it were, an emblem that denotes the fulfillment of the vow.”-from a Victorian ladies’ magazine. Wedding bands have as lovely a history as the women who wear them, and learning about the symbolism and account behind this tradition can be an enlightening experience.
Despite it not being well-documented, the tradition of getting engaged dates as far back as our cavemen ancestors. The Pharaohs of Egypt are credited with being the first to use a ring in circular form to symbolism a union and eternity. The Egyptians regarded the symbol and design of the circle as a reminder that life, happiness and love should have no beginning and no end.
During Roman times, it was an established tradition to give a ring as a symbol of matrimony and represented the public marriage contract between a woman and a man. This pledge and the ring representing it were a statement that their union would be honored. These early rings were crafted out of iron, and gold was introduced in the second century A.D. It was not long after that the Christians adopted the ring and its symbolism into their wedding ceremonies.
At a formal betrothal in twelfth-century England, a promise of a dowry (an endowment from the groom to the bride) was made public. The modern day wedding and engagement ring appears to be viewed in a similar way, as the promise to marry, but now also seems to be seen as the groom’s generosity and the love he has for his bride-to-be.
During the Commonwealth period in Britain, which was between the years of 1649-1660, the use of the wedding ring was forbidden because of its supposed “heathenish origin.” Although the wedding band was forbidden during this period, the Presbyterian minister of Finchingfield, Essex, performed the wedding ceremony of one of his daughters using the also outlawed Book of Common Prayer and a ring to ensure that she would not be returned to him for want of what most considered a legal marriage.
Efforts were undertaken to prevent mock weddings (done for the purpose of seduction) using rings made from rushes, or reeds. In 1217, the Bishop of Salisbury announced: “Let no man put a ring of rush, or any other material upon the hands of young girls, by way of mock celebration, for the purpose of seducing them, that while believing he is only perpetrating a jest, he may not in reality find himself bound irrevocably to the connubial state.” There are records of rings from curtain rods and even a ring crafted from a piece of a kid gloves being used. The residents of the St. Kilda, located off the coast of Scotland, used a piece of woolen thread as a ring at the wedding ceremony. The wedding ring was not actually worn, but married women wore a white frill at the front of the head shawl that distinguished them.
There are countless superstitions around wedding bands that have lasted through the years, and many end up contradicting one another. There is an old saying that states “As your wedding ring wears, your cares will wear away.” Others see the wearing away of the wedding band as a sign that the marriage is wearing away, and if the women’s ring falls apart from wear, she will probably soon lose her husband as well. It has become unlucky, probably sometime around the nineteenth century, to remove the ring after it has been placed on the finger in church, although in some locations it is considered safe to remove the ring after the birth of the couple’s first child. If the ring is to fall off by accident, the supposed back luck can be avoided if the husband replaces it.
L Maher is a content writer who writes and researches about gorgeous and extraordinary Celtic jewelry, as well as Irish culture and history.
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Diamond Circle Love
Diamond Circle Love
Diamond Circle Love