What Makes Your Ring Finger So Special?

Photographed by Winnie Au.
Western wedding traditions range from romantic (kissing to seal the marriage) to seemingly inexplicable (seriously, who thought the garter toss was necessary?). Chief among these latter customs is the practice of wearing wedding rings on the left hand's fourth finger. Turns out, we have antiquated ideas about anatomy to thank for this tradition.
According to a belief that dates back to ancient Greece, the vena amoris, also known as the "love vein," was supposedly a special vein that began in the fourth finger on the left hand and led directly to the heart.
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Sadly, this popular (and actually pretty sweet) belief is definitely a myth. As one doctor, responding to a Quora post, pointed out, just about all veins in the body send blood to the heart — there's no reason to believe that this one vein is very special at all. (It's certainly a cute sentiment, though.)
But even if the science behind the "ring finger" tradition is bunk, we can still find meaning in this custom. People wear wedding rings as a symbol of the unbreakable bond they share with their partner. They're meant to reflect, as one 15th century lawyer put it, that the couple has joined their hands and hearts together — and that can be conveyed on any hand or finger, depending on the cultural traditions you subscribe to. So really, the whole science aspect doesn't actually matter if you focus on the emotional significance a wedding band can have.
And honestly, even if we wanted to overhaul this practice, we're kind of stuck with it at this point. We may as well embrace it as one of the many wedding customs we chalk up to tradition for tradition's sake. Besides, moving the "ring finger" could mean telling Beyoncé to change her choreography — and no one is that powerful.
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