Thursday, February 09, 2006

inner dork: the ring finger

The ancient Egyptians were the first to place a ring on the third finger of the left hand to signify the marriage union.
It was placed on that finger because Egyptians believed that the "vein of love" ran from this finger to the heart. They used a ring beacuse they believed that the circle was the symbol for eternity. It represented perfection because it had no beginning and no end.
Rings found in ancient Egyptian tombs were made of pure gold. The name or title of the owner was engraved on the ring in hieroglyphs. The poorer citizens of Egypt wore rings of silver, bronze, amber, ivory, or simply glazed pottery.
Because gold was precious to the early Romans, a gold ring symbolized everlasting love and commitment.
King Edward VI of England decreed that the third finger on the left hand was to be the ring finger. In the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, the left hand was designated as the marriage hand.


Jay said...

Out-dorking topic of the week: the history of marriage.

It is very hard to be able to establish a true date on the first marriages although the Old Testament in the Bible does mention a little about marriage as it was considered a family and household affair. The oldest male relative was the caretaker of the girls and the prospective husband would ask the father for the girl after first bringing him gifts to win his approval. The mother was dominated by the father and had no choice in the matter. The father would transfer the daughter to the prospective husband in public as this showed that he approved this transfer and that the groom had the father's approval. After this transfer the bride and groom ate a meal together with the families and then the groom took the bride home. In the Old Testament of the Bible there is no mention of a formal exchange of vows or of a preacher or priest being present at this union.

In the time of the Roman Empire (17 B.C.- A.D. 476) the lower classes who became Christians later had common law or free marriages. The father would deliver the bride and the agreement of the two was called a consensus to wed. Then eventually as Christianity spread the church interpreted a "free" marriage as a conscience marriage. This agreement meant that each partner was to keep the marriage vows and the marriage intact.

There were Romans who were very wealthy who would sign documents consisting of listing property rights and letting all know that they wanted this union to be legalized and not to be thought of as a common law marriage. Thus this began the official recording of marriages as we do today. Roman men could dissolve the marriage any time as it was a male privilege, not one accorded to females.

In A.D. 527-565, during the rein of Justinian, lawyers drew up laws called the Justinian Code and this was a regulation of their daily life including marriage. Up until the time of the Justinian Code just saying you were married was enough.

Until the ninth century marriages were not church involved. Up until the twelfth century there were blessings and prayers during the ceremony and the couple would offer their own prayers. Then priests asked that an agreement be made in their presence. Then religion was added to the ceremony.

English weddings in the thirteenth century among the upper class became religious events but the church only blessed the marriage and did not want a legal commitment. In 1563 the Council of Trent required that Catholic marriages be celebrated at a Catholic church by a priest and before two witnesses. By the eighteenth century the wedding was a religious event in all countries of Europe.

In Colonial times in North America the customs of the old countries were followed. There were some who only wanted a civil ceremony and not a religious ceremony. The Colonists who wanted civil marriages passed laws to this effect.

Civil magistrates would perform marriage ceremonies and they would even include prayers in the ceremony.

Viriginia was a colony that stayed with the customs of the church and did not permit anyone to have a civil marriage ceremony as they followed the Church of England. By the end of the eighteenth century both religious and civil marriage ceremonies were legal in America.

With today's issues about marriage making headlines, (gay marriage) it's interesting to see that religion wasn't involved in marriage until the twelfth century, and that the idea of marriage and what form it takes has constantly evolved throughout the ages. If we look at recent history, the idea of inter-racial marriage got the same flak as gay marriage does now. I say, "Let it evolve."

Besides, why shouldn't gays have the opportunity to be as unhappy as the rest of us?! ;P


Party Girl said...

WOW! I feel as if I've been up-dorked. Love it!

I was just (literally) talking with a co-worker about gay marriage. Who the fuck cares. Who am I to tell someone who they can and can not love? Who am I to say who should be happy or not. Who cares. Go and be happy.
I'm the cynic at the wedding going, two years. I give it two years, tops.

I found the whole religious issue in marrige interesting. Ah, the church. They love to get their hands into everything, don't they.
I just (again, as in literally)wrote a paper on the history of monasteries and the influence of monks/churches from the time of Anthony in the 4th century-the fall of the papacy beginning in the 15th century.
Christianity and it's spread had nothing to do with God. Everything to do with power and influence over the weak and poor.

...and off her soapbox.