Gay or lesbian wedding rings: from tradition’s origins to the present
Wedding ring is still today a symbol of the eternal bond between two people that wearing it promise to join their lives with the partner. That of the wedding ring is a tradition coming from ancient times. Let’s find out more about its origins, its meaning nowadays, the differences with the engagement ring and which is the right finger for gay or lesbian wedding rings.
THE MEANING OF RINGS IN HISTORY
The anulus (in latin) was a “small circle” used from ancient times to adorn hands or arms and, sometimes, also feet. But beyond this aesthetic function the ring has assumed during time other symbolic meanings, thanks to its particular shape, without beginning or end, able to represent the spacial perfection of the life circle ant that of eternity. The ring was also used as a royal seal, starting from ancient Egyptians that used to put on them snakes or beetles. The ring was also used to indicate a social status, as emblem of power and authority. The Greeks used to apply cameos or engravings on it, Roman matrons a small key, sign of their authority in the house. For centuries, Roman senators and magistrates had the exclusive right to wear the golden ring. During the middle age, from the ninth century, kings during their coronation, and bishops for their consecration manifested their authority wearing a golden ring.
THE WEDDING RING
The Christian use of the exchange of ring during the wedding celebration is probably dated back to Ninth century. The mystic circular shape, perfection of the union, assumed the meaning of mutual loyalty, while the gold, usually yellow, instead of iron, represents in the christian tradition, the eternity of the bond. So that the braking of the ring predicts disasters. In sixteenth century people started to wear one or more rings with seals or precious stones and became widely used to wear the ring also after the ceremony. Only in eighteenth century became common use to engrave inside it names and dates.
WHY THE WEDDING RING IS WORN ON THE LEFT HAND?
An ancient Egyptian belief thought that a small artery, called in Latin vena amoris (vein of love) ran through the ring finger of the left hand directly to the heart.
Not everywhere the ring is worn on the left hand. In Eastern and Northern Europe the wedding ring is worn on the right hand. The same in some countries of South America, while in the past, in England it was worn on the thumb finger.
WHICH FINGER FOR GAY OR LESBIAN WEDDING RINGS?
Now that same sex wedding has been institutionalized, the question is: is there a different tradition in wearing a gay or a lesbian wedding ring? As it often happens with still in the making traditions, we can trace a tendency, that of wearing the engagement ring on the right hand, and the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand, as in straight wedding, but there are many exceptions, mostly among lesbians, that prefer wearing the engagement ring on the left hand and the wedding ring on the right.