You probably have seen many people with a ring on their finger, but have you ever wondered what that ring means to people in different countries?
Have you ever visited a country and noticed the different types of rings on different fingers?
Let’s look at Germany to learn about the history and meaning behind their wedding rings, as well as which hand they wear it on and other common questions.
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What finger is the ring finger in Germany?
Just like many other places, the ring finger is the fourth finger but on the right hand.
Why the right hand?
Germans wear their wedding on the right hand as they believe their right hand is more important, as it is the one used to shake hands and used to swear the truth in a legal setting.
It is also a way to be a part of their heritage and carry on this tradition along to current and future generations.
Since their wedding ring is a symbol of love for one another, representing the eternity of their relationship, it makes sense why they would wear what they consider to be the more important hand.
Why the fourth finger?
To know that, we must go back in time. Historically, rings were worn on all the fingers, including the thumb.
There is debate whether it was the Egyptians started this way, but it is known that the Romans started wearing it on the left hand on the fourth finger because they believed that finger contained the ‘vena amoris’ or the ‘vein of love’, a vein that ran directly from that finger to the heart.
All though this has been disproved, there is no vein of love, but the tradition of the fourth finger continues today to symbolize fidelity and eternal love. Germans, like many others, continue this tradition even on the right hand.
Has it always been the right hand in Germany?
Traditionally only married women wore wedding rings, and it was only until the second half of the 19th century that men also started participating in this tradition. Women and men wore their wedding rings on the right hand back then, and the tradition has continued to this day.
The right hand is also a symbol of trust, loyalty, and honor, all things needed in a lasting marriage.
What if someone is left-handed?
Many left-handed people still follow the tradition of wearing their ring on their right hand. Of course, this is not always the case but in general, seems to be the trend.
What are the pros and cons?
On the pros side, as the majority of people’s right hand is their dominant hand, it is the one they use to shake others' hands, write, and many more things, letting it be shown off to the owner of the ring and any others around them.
On the downside, since most people’s right hands are dominant, it is the one they use the most and therefore can make wearing the ring uncomfortable or impractical depending on the type of work they are doing.
Although most people in Germany still wear their rings on the right side, some switch to the left for the sake of comfort.
What about the engagement ring?
Unlike other countries, it is not that common for Germans to own an engagement ring. For those that do, they will wear it on their left hand and move it to their right hand after their wedding.
They may also replace the engagement ring with a ring that matches their partner's and place it on their right hand when married. Some people will wear their engagement ring in addition to their wedding ring, while others may store it in a safe place to give to their future children.
There is no one traditional type of engagement ring, and different people will choose different styles, with and without a gem or diamond.
Check out these sustainable engagement ring options,
What To Do
It is common in Germany to purchase a simple gold ring, without diamonds, gems, or elaborate engraving.
Many people will inscribe a simple message inside of the ring from German poems, such as ‘Meyn Genyst’ which means ‘my heart’ or ‘my soul.’ Rings with these types of descriptions are called Poesy rings.
Take your ring off if you are doing any activities that may harm it like swimming or cleaning. Many who work in certain fields like labor, and the medical field take their ring off while working, or keep it around their neck on a chain.
What Not to Do
Nowadays, there are very few rules as to what not to do. Any person can propose and rings can be optional.
The one main thing not to do is neglect your ring as it is a strong symbol of your love for one another, so make sure to keep it shining.
Wedding Outfit for Women
It’s your big day, your wedding day, what should you wear? Traditionally women in Germany will wear a white strapless gown with no trail or veil.
Why not try a sustainable wedding dress?
Outfit for Engagement Photos
For engagement photos or photos with the ring, why not try something more casual but still elegant? How about a dress paired with some boots or heels?
Check out these dresses.
Outfit Suggestions for Men
On their wedding day, a German groom will typically wear a black suit or tux.
Take a look at these suit options.
Outfit for Engagement Photos
For engagement photos, you can still look formal while being comfortable. Why not try a pair of chinos with a dress shirt?
Check out these chino options.
Check out these dress shirt options.
The ring is traditionally a simple gold ring for both parties, with an optional inscription on the inside.
Of course, there are a variety of materials and styles to choose from, so go with what you like and what will work best for you. Some people opt for no ring, or something more practical like a silicon ring that is not as easily damaged.
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