Wedding – not engagement: the main differences between the main wedding rings
Everything related to the wedding is always difficult, has a deep symbolic meaning and sacred meaning. Remember, even the old song says that the engagement ring is not an easy decoration. And the wedding rings? Probably, these are even more complicated products. Now, when an increasing number of newlyweds are striving to perform the Orthodox wedding ceremony at marriage, people are asking questions: how to wear engagement and wedding rings and is there a difference between them?
Probably, in our time, the reasons why modern newlyweds go to church on the day of marriage are not very important. More important is another: in the modern world, weddings are almost an obligatory tradition, while Orthodox rules and customs are not known to everyone. Orthodox wedding rings are not an ordinary piece of jewelry; they are consecrated by the history and traditions of Christianity. Therefore, their choice, the particularities of wearing in marriage and after it, are issues that disturb the young people who want to do the right thing on the birthday of their new family, according to all the canons. We will help you deal with the difference between wedding and engagement rings and make the right choice.
Wedding rite: traditions, modernity, signs
Let us begin our acquaintance with wedding traditions with a ceremony less understood by most contemporaries – with a wedding. Our ancestors did not need to explain what it is. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, they acted as their fathers and grandfathers did: on the wedding day they were married in a church. And they certainly were not interested in the question of what should be the wedding ring, since it was impossible to confuse it with another. Rather, you could explain to your ancestors what this “registry office” of yours is and why it is not a priest who fixes a marriage between people, but an aunt in a suit and with a tower of hair on her head. But 70 years of the Soviet period broke the connection between ancestors and descendants, and that is why many of us now need to re-clarify what constitutes a sacrament called wedding.
Ancient Wedding Traditions
The Bible says that the union concluded by the heirs of Adam and Eve is a charitable deed. The Church, as the guide of the Most High on earth, took upon itself the right to “legally” formalize this union, to testify before the Lord of the veracity of the intentions of young people who marry, and to write this information in special books. Already the apostle Paul was sure: the union between a man and a woman is a union between Jesus Christ and the Church of God. To fix it, some kind of a win-win symbol was needed. Rings became such a symbol. What kind of rings are needed for a wedding? The groom symbolizes Jesus by himself, therefore puts a golden ring on his finger as a sign of divine glory. But the woman (the “church”) gets a silver ring. This is a symbol of modesty, tenderness, purity. The symbolism of gold and silver as male and female metals, embodying masculinity and femininity, apparently went from there.
People who choose to marry bring wedding rings to the church. Throughout the sacrament of weddings, rings were exchanged three times, so that the bride got a silver engagement ring, and the future wife got a gold one. There is no confusion here, but a deep meaning is laid: you give yourself to another person and swear allegiance to him, therefore you give your own ring, and take the half of the betrothal for yourself. Well, the most important question: the wedding ring – on which hand they wear it? There are two options.
Left hand. Earlier, rings were worn exactly like that, because the ancients were sure: the left ring finger is a conductor, it contains a vein (or, according to other sources, an artery), which leads to the heart.
Right hand. There is evidence that the rings were worn on the right hand. People who think so explain “right-handedness” as a common mistake: when knowledge was imperfect, it was believed that the same “cardiac artery” was located in the right hand. Then the error was eliminated, but the tradition remained.
The sacrament of wedding is a tradition that originates around the X-XI centuries, that is, in the early Middle Ages. Of course, our ancestors had similarities to modern registry offices, but believers (the number of which was close to 100 percent) sought to marry God, in church. But since the XVIII century, no “civilian” ways of marriage existed, and the only possible union was concluded under the domes of the temple.
As you can see, the wedding before was by no means an optional process. And if you decide to revive the traditions of our ancestors today or celebrate the birth of your family, using church canons and rules, it causes only joy and respect.
Engagement – Not Wedding: Feel the Difference
So, as already mentioned, in ancient times there were two rites, for each of which had its own ring.
Betrothal. What we now call engagement. The young man gave the engagement ring to the girl with whom he planned to marry.