Have you ever thought about the origin of what we know today as engagement rings? Countries from all over follow heritage traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. As we talk about engagement ring tradition from around the world, try to think about if you’d ever like to incorporate them into your own engagement experience!
Engagement rings are believed to have originated in ancient Egypt, where circles were believed to be a symbol of eternity. Ancient Egyptian soon-to-be wedded couples would exchange “rings” made out of braided reeds. They would wear these reeds on the left hand. The left hand is said to have a vein called “vena amoris” that runs directly to the heart. As folklore and tradition go, the heart represents love and fidelity, so the ring should be worn on the finger that has the vein running directly to it.
Engagement Ring Traditions from Around the World
Engagement ring traditions as we know them today in western culture, mimic this ancient Egyptian tradition. Women receive a ring from the man to show engagement, and men usually do not receive an engagement ring. However, in other parts of the world, things are done a little differently to show engagement. Here are some other countries and their engagement ring and jewelry traditions. What are your wedding photo must-haves?
These countries wear their engagement rings on their right hands, instead of their left. This may also be seen in England, France, Germany, and Norway. Many of these traditions get passed down from generation to generation, but the meanings of the rings symbolize the same ideas no matter what finger the ring is worn on: love and fidelity. What will your nails look like with your engagement ring?
In Chile, both the men and women receive engagement rings, which we do not see in the United States. They also wear their engagement rings on the right hand, but then move them to the left hand when they get married. This represents the crossover from engagement to marriage. This tradition is very much like a graduate moving their tassel on their cap from the right to the left once they have received their diplomas.
In the Western world, we normally wear diamonds on our engagement rings, however, in France they wear other gemstones like rubies, emeralds, and sapphire! Kate Middleton has definitely started a trend in the U.S. with her sapphire ring, and more people are straying away from the diamond. Now that you’re engaged, what’s next?
Couples in Kenya exchange elaborate jewelry for their engagement instead of rings and gemstones. Decorative beading has been a part of African cultures for a long time. Each African group, region, and religion plays a large role in the colors and types of adornment. Even the climate of the region plays a role in the materials that are used to make the jewelry.
In some Hindu cultures, the women wear toe rings to signify engagement rather than finger rings. The toe rings are called “Bichiya.” However, in some Hindu cultures, women wear western-style engagement rings. Although the reasons for wearing toe rings vary, one belief is that toe rings press on nerves that are connected to the reproductive system that keeps it healthy.
In West Bengal, India, and other Indian cultures, the women wear bangle bracelets made of glass, gold, iron, or other metals instead of engagement rings. The bangles symbolize good fortune and prosperity, both important to marriage in Indian culture. Indian women are also adorned in a lot of other jewelry on their wedding days like gold necklaces, rings, nose rings, belts, and headdresses! To learn more about Indian weddings, check out this blog post!
Irish Claddagh ring
The Irish Claddagh ring is one that represents friendship, love, and loyalty. The hands-on the ring stand for friendship, the heart stands for love, and the crown symbolizes loyalty. When wearing a Claddagh ring, there are steps to take that let others know your relationship status. You wear the ring on the right hand with the crown facing you to show you are single. Wear the ring on the right hand with the crown facing outward if you are in a relationship. Move the ring to the left hand with the crown facing you to indicate engagement. Wear it on the left hand with the crown facing away from you to indicate marriage.
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