Man putting a ring on a woman's finger
Exchanging rings Photo: Thinkstock

It is believed that the ancient Greeks were the first to wear a wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand, from the romantic notion that a ‘vein of love’ ran from there to the heart. Until the 1700s in England, a wedding ring could be worn on any finger, and even the thumb. Thereafter, the left-hand ring finger became traditional.

The 16th-century Dutch author Levinus Lemnius maintained that a swooning woman could be revived by rubbing this finger to refresh ‘the fountain of life unto which this finger is joined’. Physicians also used this one to stir their potions. The USA, France, Sweden, Brazil and many other countries follow the left-hand custom.

The Romans favoured the ring finger of the right hand because they considered the left unlucky (the Latin for ‘left’ is sinister which also means ‘unfavourable’). This custom (though not belief) continues today in many countries, including India, Spain, Germany and Russia. In some, such as Belgium, the hand of choice even varies from region to region.

Like this Article?Vote it Up!

Most Popular in History

  1. Last trip of the Hindenburg
  2. Britain's Great Train Robbery
  3. Wit and Wisdom from Nelson Mandela

More Advice

Post A Comment

Comments are published and responded to (if required) on a weekly basis. For queries or comments about our Sweepstakes and product purchases from our online store, please call Customer Service on 0800 400 060 or email Comments containing personal or inappropriate material may be modified or removed at our discretion.


Your chance to win cash & prizes!
Enter now 

Are you a winner?
Click here

Shop at our store!

• Books
• DVDs
• Music
• Gifts

Click Here