Why Wedding Rings?

I’m helping a couple with marriage prep and the bride to be comes from a conservative Protestant background. She is uncomfortable with the idea of wedding rings because this practice has pre-Christian pagan roots. Besides the general argument that a symbol of unity used by non-Christians is still a symbol of unity, are there any explanations or resources that might be helpful for me to share with her?


Fr. Ryan


Ancient Egyptians used rings of grass and other short-lived materials to symbolize eternity. They placed these rings on the bride and gooms’ left hands, on any finger, because they thought a vein ran from the left hand to the heart. In this way they believed the bride and grooms’ hearts were literally linked to each other and to eternity.
Europeans used a coin, broken by the groom at engagement and rejoined at the wedding. He would go, e.g. to war, and keep half the coin. The other half was the bride’s engagement token.
Soon rings replaced coins as they were easier to break and easier to display. The bride-to-be and her intended strung the ring pieces on strings arond their necks. The rings were often engraved with sayings about love and fidelity andso on.
Rennaissance Italians invented the diamond engagement token. Diamonds were a symbol of love to them. In the 15th or 16th Century one Italian noblewoman wore a diamond engaement ring. It caught on eventually.
Brides didn’t wear white until the 1830’s, when it slowly started becoming popular after Queen Victoria wore white at her wedding. Before that, white was considered a funeral color in Europe and the USA. Brides wore their favorite dresses of any color, but the most preferred bridal colors were purple for queens, crimson and royal blue in some cases, and often green for ordinary women. Asian women mostly wore red and gold, their “lucky” colors. They considered white and black bad luck.

Hi Father! I can’t remember exactly how he worded this, but Archbishop Sheen talked about “Signs and dreams of the world to come” (or somesuch thing like that) that were found in pagan religions and philosophy. I’ll look for the exact quote today and post it if I find it.

I think I’ve also read that the medieval Christians used Virgil as an example of this belief. In one of his prophetic poems it appears that he does indeed foretell the coming of Christ, though I suppose that view is debatable.

We do teach that all men can know God, right? Plato and Virgil may indeed have been responding in some capacity to the graces given to them and thus paved the way for the dramatic changes that would sweep the world when the Kingdom was opened in its fullness to gentiles. I think that’s pretty cool! :smiley:

I can’t help with specific information, but I sure don’t understand this kind of thinking. Special wedding clothes are pre-Christian. Marriage ceremonies are p-C. Sacred buildings are p-C. Books of sacred writings are p-C. Etc, etc, etc.

I think you might want to approach the issue in a different way. In this day and age, a wedding ring says “I have made vows” and a married person who doesn’t wear a ring (except for legitimate reasons) is perceived by many as denying or downplaying their marriage vows to the public at large. Some will even assume it means she’s “on the make.” Is that the message she wants to convey about her vows and her commitment to her husband?

Fr. Ryan, yes indeed the wedding band has its beginnings in the pagan world. Please point out to her though, that Many customs and practices of Christians have origins in the pagan world, we just Christinized them.:thumbsup:

Also, explain that the ring, though not absolutely Needed, is a wonderful sign of commitment one to another. Ask her to look at a ring and tell you where it ENDS! She can’t of course, and that is the symbolism behind it. As long as we are married in the eyes of the Church and before God (He being the center of any marriage), marriage vows while both live on this earth have NO ending point–just like the ring.:thumbsup:

If it is any help the very pious Holy Roman Emporer Charles V (i think it was him, or maybe the HRE before him…) was the first guy to give a diamond ring for an engagement. So a Christian added to this tradition even though it was originally pagen.

Christianity adopted alot of pagan symbols to help make Christianity make more sense to them. Thats why easter is in Spring a time of new life. That is why we celebrate the dead on All Saints Day and All Souls day and throughout november as nature is dieing for the winter. We celebrate Christmas in the winter just after the darkest day of the year because it marks hope returning to the world.

We take tones of traditions from pagans but the traditions are not bad as long as we use them to glorify God in some way. Marriage rings symbolize the marrage and as long as the couple is always faithful and live their lives together for Chirst then their marriage is glorifying to God and so the symbol of their marriage must be glorifying to God by proxy.

Hope that makes sense and helps.

And weren’t ALL of us pagan until we were baptized?

Isn’t this what Christianity is all about: taking that which was alienated from God and redeeming it and using it for His glory?

The very paper of the Bible has pagan roots, too. Would she reject the use of the Bible for this reason?

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