Monday, June 14, 2010

Guys Wearing Engagement Rings?!?!

Strange but true, it seems.

In the beginning of chapter ten (p.53) of their book, Under the Wedding Canopy Love and Marriage in Judaism, authors David C. and Esther R. Gross write about "changing customs."
The first one they mention, and the one for which the chapter is titled is about MEN wearing engagment rings:

"Oddly, the engagement ring that brides-to-be proudly flash around was worn by the groom-to-be in Jewish communities during the Middle Ages."

Wait, it gets better:

"And even more oddly, the ring was presented to him by his future father-in-law."

WOW. Think about how this would work (or not) in today's wacky shidduch system. But don't give up hope for your alta-alta-alta-alta-alta-alta-alta bubbies, ladies:

"Nevertheless, on the morning of the wedding day, the bride received a golden engagement ring from her future husband."

Overall, quite interesting. I wish they quoted their sources for this, though - there aren't any footnotes or endnotes of any sort... which kind of delegitimizes the novelty of this historical report.

Anyone have any credible sources?

EDIT 10:42 PM - Bad4 totally beat me to the punch in her post from December (see the last bit of the post)...


  1. Interesting. I've never heard of that custom before, but I definitely think we should reinstitute it. For two reasons:
    1. Why should it only be girls who have an indicator of whether they are engaged or not. There should be a way to tell if a guy is engaged, and married for that matter too (without waiting to see if he wears a talis, which isn't always helpful anyway)
    2. Why should the guy be the only one giving something when they get engaged. I'm sure most girls are OK with getting a piece of jewelry but I always thought it would be so much nicer to exchange gifts rather than only being on the receiving end.

  2. SternGrad - I had never heard of it either until I saw this. I wikipedia-ed "engagement ring" and it seems that in some cultures both men and women wear engagement rings. It also says that sometimes for men the engagement ring also becomes their wedding ring. So to answer your first point - that would seem to be an interesting way to kill two birds with one stone (and a guy probably wouldn't want to wear two rings anyway). The idea of men wearing wedding rings was discussed ad nauseum on Bad4's blog earlier this year... actually it turns out Bad4 beat me to the punch! It was a last thought on that post... I guess I'm not so original...

    Regarding your 2nd point, there IS a longstanding Jewish custom of exchanging gifts during the engagement period. At the moment of proposal, however, it might complicate things. Unless, as we discussed before, the rings aren't intrinsically made part of the proposal itself.


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