Ring(s) by Spring?

Ring(s) by Spring?

Ring by spring; this is a saying that gets thrown around in our community here at TWU almost daily. During the spring semesters at TWU, it is almost every week that someone gets engaged on campus on average. When I began thinking about this, it made me curious about the whole reasoning behind the use of rings.  

There are various meanings and uses of rings and many different reasons why someone might choose to wear one (or several). Depending on which finger the ring is worn on, it bears a unique meaning and carries a different history.

One of them that is unique to Canada is the use of a ring for engineers. When someone completes their engineering education in Canada, they receive a ring to wear on the pinky of their dominant hand as a symbol that they are an engineer. The history behind the ring is explained on SFU’s website for their engineering science department.

In the early 1900s there was a construction project of a bridge called the Quebec Bridge. When it was nearly completed, it collapsed under the weight of a train loaded with steel, and in that incident, 75 people were killed. When it was analyzed, it was found that the incident was due to an error by the engineers who designed the bridge. The bridge was rebuilt, but unfortunately, it too collapsed, killing 10 more people. The bridge was finally completed in 1917. Most people believe that the first rings were made from the iron from the original bridge, but that is not the case. As stated by SFU: “The collapse of the bridge led to the tradition of the Iron Ring to symbolize the humility and fallibility of engineers.”

My Physics teacher in high school completed his education for engineering in Canada. He always said that for him, the ring is a reminder that, like the work of a doctor, what he does as an engineer has the ability to affect the lives of those around him for better or for worse.

The next well-known ring position is the ring finger, for engagement rings, wedding rings, and sometimes promise rings. Promise rings are self-explanatory and have no real meaning behind them other than that they are a symbol of commitment to fulfilling a promise you have made to someone. In a way, it is a like an engagement ring or wedding ring, but used for different purposes. Wedding rings are worn by both people in a relationship as a symbol of their commitment to the marriage and to each other—but why do only women in Western society wear engagement rings? One of my friends from Turkey mentioned that in their homeland, it is common for both the man and the woman to wear a ring when they are engaged. However, their rings tend to be less flashy than the usual ring you will see in a Western country. When I did a bit more research into the Eastern traditions, I came across an article that mentioned that “In Chile, both men and women receive engagement rings, which they wear on their right hands. Once they’re married, they move them to their left hands.”

The woman wears a ring to signify to others that she has committed to one person with the intent of marriage. If that is the meaning behind the ring, why don’t men wear a ring as well? There have been some celebrities that have taken on this idea; among them are Ed Sheeran, Charlie Sheen, Michael Bublé, and Johnny Depp. The story behind why Johnny Depp wore an engagement ring is one that I found interesting. No one knows if the ring didn’t fit his fiancée Amber Heard, wasn’t exactly what she liked, but regardless, Depp got a bigger and better ring for her and kept the original for himself.When questioned, he referred to it as a “Mangagement Ring.”

This trend has been catching on in Europe. A study done by the XO Group Inc found that about 5% of engagement rings are worn by men. One particular jeweller, H. Samuel, has a line of around eight different “mangagement” rings that he offers. The male-centred line of rings was started about eight years ago.

Another jeweler by the name of Brilliance has begun to use the “mangagement” ring name and has done a great job at doing so. The company has a little statement about why it feels the need for the line of rings for men: “Just for Men. Why? Because love knows no color, gender, orientation, or agenda. For a long time, men's fashion has taken a backseat to women's, but with changing norms and traditions, it's about time to bring some creativity to men's rings and jewelry.” This shows that engagement rings are for everyone who gets engaged and not just women.

So the question for our heterosexual readers is, when the time to get engaged comes, will the both of you wear engagement rings or will just be the woman? The question of whether both parties ought to wear an engagement ring brings up some thoughts about the society we live in and the way we perceive symbols in our Western culture.

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