Etymology and Naming of the Ring Finger
- The ring finger is called digitus medicinalis, digitus annularis, digitus quartus, or digitus IV in anatomy.
- In many languages, the ring finger is named after magic, rings, or called nameless.
- Examples include the Japanese term 薬指 (kusuri yubi, medicine finger), Sanskrit term Anamika, Finnish term nimetön, and Russian term Безымянный (bezymianny, nameless).
- In Semitic languages such as Arabic and Hebrew, the ring finger is called bansur (meaning victory) and kmitsa (meaning taking a handful), respectively.
History of the Ring Finger
- Before the discovery of the circulatory system, people believed a vein ran directly from the fourth digit on the left hand to the heart.
- This vein was called vena amoris, Latin for the vein of love.
- The wedding ring was traditionally worn on the fourth digit of the left hand to symbolize eternal love.
- In Britain, only women wore wedding rings until after the World Wars when married male soldiers started wearing them.
- The placement of the wedding ring on different fingers varied throughout history and cultures.
Contemporary Customs of Wearing the Wedding Ring
- In Western cultures, the wedding ring is traditionally worn on the fourth digit of the left hand.
- In some European countries, the ring is worn on the left hand before marriage and transferred to the right during the ceremony.
- The former British Empire, parts of Western Europe, Catholic Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, and Central and Eastern Europe follow the tradition of wearing the wedding ring on the left hand.
- In Orthodox and some Catholic European countries, as well as some Protestant Western European and Central/South American Catholic countries, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand.
- Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Romania, and Brazil have customs where the ring is worn on the right hand until the wedding day, then moved to the left hand.
Western Customs of Wearing the Wedding Ring
- In Western cultures, the wedding ring is traditionally worn on the fourth digit, also known as the ring finger.
- The ring is given to the woman during the betrothal ceremony and blessed before being placed on her finger.
- In medieval Europe, the ring was placed on the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers during the wedding ceremony, eventually staying on the ring finger.
- The 1549 Prayer Book in England declared that the ring should be placed on the left hand.
- The wedding ring is worn on the right hand in Spain, while in other countries it is generally worn on the left hand.
Middle Eastern, Jewish, and Asian Customs of Wearing the Wedding Ring
- In Sinhalese and Tamil culture, the groom wears the wedding ring on his right hand, while the bride wears it on her left hand ring finger.
- Wedding rings are not traditional in most Islamic countries, but rings for betrothal or engagement are prevalent.
- In a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, the wedding ring is placed on the bride's right-hand index finger, but other traditions place it on the middle finger or thumb.
- Rings are not traditional in Indian weddings, but it is becoming common to wear engagement rings on the left hand.
- Men generally wear rings on the right hand in Indian culture, while women wear them on the left hand.
Ring finger Data Sources