Why Are Wedding Rings Worn on the Ring Finger?

atkins-bookshelf-triviaDuring ancient times, wedding rings were worn on any of the five fingers of the left or right hand. It was the Romans who developed the tradition of wearing a wedding ring on the ring finger, located between the middle finger (used for a very unromantic gesture, dating back to the Ancient Greeks) and the little finger (or pinky) of the left hand. The human circulatory system was not well understood then (it would not be understood until centuries later, when William Harvey published his landmark work, De Motu Cordis — “On the Motion of the Heart and Blood” — in 1628); the Romans, literally being romantics at heart, believed that the ring finger contained a vein that ran directly to the heart. This vein was appropriately named the vena amoris (“vein of love”). A ring placed on the ring finger symbolized profound love and publicly expressed the commitment that a couple had made to one another. The jewelry industry, of course, has a slightly different understanding of the vena amoris — they believe that the vein runs directly into a man’s wallet (the vena pecuniam.)

Read related posts: Rare Anatomy Words
Ten Interesting Facts about the Human Body

For further reading: Useless Information by Jon Wilman, Fall River (2011)
The Complete Human Body by Alice Roberts, DK Publishing (2010)

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