The bague de fiançailles (engagement ring) has long been the most important part of any marriage proposal – or at least, that’s what we’ve been led to believe by pop culture and Hollywood movies. But how exactly did this tradition come to be? And why do we feel the need to buy an expensive ring to propose with? What happened in history that made us feel this way? Let’s take a look at how one of the oldest traditions in Western culture came about!
Why Do French Couples Exchange Rings?
In France, it is customary for a man and woman to exchange rings. Whether you’re from France or America, if you follow French culture in any way, there’s a good chance that one day you may find yourself in need of a bague de fiançailles. While some will tell you these rings carry magical powers and others say they have a religious significance, all agree that each ring reflects who you are as a couple on your wedding day.
Where Did this Tradition Originate?
There is little evidence as to where exactly wedding rings originated, but many believe they were used as proof of betrothal in ancient Rome. In Ancient Greece, however, a silver band was placed on a bride’s right hand at her marriage ceremony. On her left hand, a golden ring would be put on six months later when she began to menstruate—this indicated that she was no longer a virgin and could now be married. These rings were then worn by newlyweds for years following their wedding.
When Did it Begin in France?
The engagement ring tradition in France is relatively new, originating in Paris after World War II. A pair of American veterans returning from war returned with a different attitude towards commitment and marriage. After proposing to their French girlfriends during wartime, they began acting on promises they made while they were away. When these veterans returned to Paris, they brought with them an idea that was common among Americans at that time but was unheard of in France—engagement rings.