What’s so special about the fourth finger of a woman’s left hand? That’s where a man’s gaze goes to if he wants to find out if the girl he has his eye on is free or spoken for. That’s where another woman’s eye goes to for very much the same reason as well as to take a look at just how expensive a ring is on that finger.
This little finger has assumed importance only in Western society. In other parts of the world, the outward symbols of an engagement or wedding are either not rings or even if it is, it is worn on another finger. There are so many explanations, so many legends related to this practice, many of them legends that go back to the mists of eras long gone.
One legend has it that each finger stands for some attachment in your life – your parents, your children and of course, your spouse and the fourth finger symbolizes your life partner. The most common explanation for wearing the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand however, is the fact that there is a vein – the vena amoris – that connects this finger to the heart. The vein is aptly named, seeing as it is connected to what is commonly believed is the body’s repository of love.
Not all western cultures follow this tradition though. There are Eastern European countries as well as some Scandinavian countries where the wedding ring is worn on the fourth finger of the right hand. In Greece, the wedding ring is worn on the left hand when the ring is slipped on and then moved to the right hand. While in the Jewish tradition, the wedding ring is put onto the index finger and then moved to the ring finger after the ceremony.
Whatever the differences and no matter on which finger the wedding ring is worn all over the world – if there is a wedding ring that is – the fourth finger of the left hand has come to be known as the ring finger. With the whole world being so together on the virtual plane, traditions from one part of the world are fast spreading everywhere. So if you see someone from Timbuktu wearing a wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand, don’t be surprised. It might not have been a part of their wedding ceremony but the wedding ring is something they have adopted as a world custom. It could be just an excuse to wear a piece of jewellery but when it’s on that finger, it usually announces to the world that it is a wedding ring.