Anna Gragert
April 05, 2016 11:21 am
Lauren Conrad / Instagram

It’s crazy to think that countless people have been taking part in a tradition, but they have no idea why. Take, for instance, engagement rings. Why are they worn on the left hand? Moreover, why is being engaged actually a thing? Why not get married right away? For how long has this been going on?

So many questions – let’s see if we can find the answers.

Origin #1: Wearing a ring close to a “love” vein.

According to Ascot Diamonds, anthropologists report that engagement rings came from another tradition: the Roman formality that had women wearing rings attached to small keys (also known as “betrothal (truth) rings”). Interestingly enough, these rings didn’t always represent marriage — they could also symbolize endearment and even friendship. More often than not, Romans wore these pieces of jewelry on their left hand’s third finger, since they believed that a vein there — called “vena amoris” or “the vein of love” — led right to the heart. The Greek scholar Appian revealed that the Egyptians of the 2nd century were actually the first to believe in the power of this vein.

Sadly, the concept of vena amoris has been proven to be scientifically inaccurate, according to Visible Body. Since all our fingers have a similar vein structure, a special vein leading straight to the heart is nothing but a myth. However, it does seem that vena amoris’ origin story comes from a spiritual source, rather than a scientific, factual reference to our bodily properties.

40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks / giphy.com
Origin #2: Wearing a ring during a mandatory waiting time before marriage.

The concept of engagement-type rings was later revived during the 13th century, in 1215, when Pope Innocent III announced that there must be a waiting period between betrothal and marriage. During this in-between time, people used engagement rings to signify that they were taken – and to signify their social standing. In other words, *~fancy~* rings could only be worn by the aristocracy.

Electus / giphy.com

It’s interesting that something as simple (albeit expensive) as an engagement ring can have so much history behind it. Also, we have to admit: though vena amoris isn’t actually a real thing, it’s still a super cute idea.

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