The Reason We Wear Wedding Rings On Our Fourth Finger

There are a lot of myths surrounding the ring finger. Some people think that wedding rings are worn on the left fourth finger because the ancient Romans believed it had a vein that ran directly to the heart. They weren't the only ones who thought this — the ancient Egyptians also believed such a connection existed. Still others think that the early Christian church came up with the tradition of wearing rings on the fourth finger. Who's right? The real reason we wear wedding rings on our fourth finger is a bit more complicated.  

First of all, there's no vein running directly from your fourth finger to your heart. While the ancients may have believed this, modern science has proven that such a thing doesn't exist. While your fourth finger is connected by veins to your heart, so are your first, second, third, and fifth fingers. The fourth finger is, however, the weakest finger which, according to The Bride's Handbook: A Spiritual & Practical Guide for Planning Your Wedding, is why the wedding ring is worn on that finger, as a reminder to the couple that "they must rely on God for the strength to have a godly marriage."

According to Insider, the fourth finger of the left hand has only been considered the ring finger for a few hundred years. They trace the tradition to approximately 1549 when the Anglican Church's Book of Common Prayer instructed members of the Anglican Church to wear the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand in order to distinguish them from Catholics and other Christians who, at that time, typically wore their wedding rings on the right fourth finger. 

While we tend to think of the fourth finger of the left hand as the default place to wear a wedding ring, not every culture has designated it as the wedding ring finger. Other cultures and religions have different wedding traditions. In some countries, including Russia, Greece, and Columbia, the wedding ring is worn on the fourth finger of the right hand. Traditionally, in a Jewish wedding, the ring is placed on the bride's right index finger.

Even though the tradition of wearing the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand seems to date back to the 16th century, this hasn't always been a consistent practice. According to Marriage Customs of the World: From Henna to Honeymoons, in the late 16th and 17th centuries, it was more fashionable for women to wear their rings on their thumbs.

It seems that the current tradition of wearing the wedding ring on the fourth finger is rooted in a combination of tradition and fashion. The good news is that, should you decide to break with wedding tradition and wear your ring on a different finger, you'll be in good company.