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HomeAfricaWedding Rings: An Ancient Egyptian Tradition — CSA Reviving Community

Wedding Rings: An Ancient Egyptian Tradition — CSA Reviving Community

The exchanging of rings has been a classic representation of a couple’s oneness, love, and commitment for millennia. However, only a few realize that the origins of this lasting custom can be found in ancient Egyptian society, which is also where the idea of the wedding ring originated. The circular ring had more meaning and symbolism in Egypt’s past than just being an ornament; it stood for deeply held views on eternal life, love, and the continuous cycle of existence. 

Wedding bands are a staple in marriage culture all around the world, but not a lot of us know about the start of this lasting tradition. The first recorded evidence of a couple commemorating their marriage by exchanging rings dates back almost 3000 years ago, documented on papyrus scrolls (written parchments) from ancient Egypt. The depiction of this formal exchange of rings is proof that while we’re millennia apart, we’re not so different from our ancestors.

While we can’t imagine a wedding today without an exchange of rings, that wasn’t always the case. It wasn’t a necessary part of a marriage for couples to exchange wedding rings in ancient Egypt, but it was a gesture that truly signified a couple’s commitment and love to one another – not only in life but in the afterlife as well. Rings were chosen as a token of adoration because of their circular shape; a circle has no beginning and no end – it’s infinite – just like the couple’s love for each other. Not only that, but a circle also reflected the shape of the sun and moon, both of which were sacred and worshipped by ancient Egyptians. Much like today, these wedding bands were worn on the left ring finger, which they believed housed a special vein connected to the heart called “the vein of love”. 

Although in modern times wedding bands are adorned by diamonds or made of gold, their origins were much simpler. The very first version of wedding bands in ancient Egypt was woven out of hemp or reeds and was later replaced by leather or ivory for durability when the reeds proved too flimsy for long-term wear. Don’t let that fool you, though, people cared about vanity just as much back then as they do now. While it wasn’t necessary to exchange rings for marriage, a ring made out of more expensive materials signified more love between the couple and the net worth of the giver. See? We’re not so different

What makes this more interesting isn’t that a tradition can remain meaningful and pass down hundreds of generations, but that it sparks in one culture and can be transported to cultures all around the world. Makes you wonder what traditions we have now that will remain for thousands of years to come.