Engagement Traditions Around the World

A newly engaged couple looks at the ocean while sitting on a palm tree

When you think about engagement, you might imagine the gift of an engagement ring as a sign of a future together. However, engagement traditions around the world are all unique. Though marriage has the same meaning in different parts of the world, the events that occur prior to the wedding and the engagement traditions have different approaches and practices.

Germany

In Germany, engagement is considered more casual than in the United States. When dating in Germany, one partner will present a promise ring to the other. It is a much smaller ring than an engagement ring. They will keep that ring throughout the whole engagement period. The promise ring represents a reassurance that the couple are still dating, and that they are working to build a future together, perhaps resulting in a future marriage.

If someone receives a promise ring, it is common to wear it on his or her left hand, not the right hand. After the wedding, the same ring is worn on the right hand. In most cases, when traveling to different parts of Europe besides Germany, most people will have their promise rings on their right hands.

Town hall with canal during the spring in Hamburg, Germany

China

A long time ago, when arranged marriages were still common in the Chinese culture, the parents of the bride-to-be would hire a matchmaker and send him forth to all the male-occupied homes seeking a lucrative marriage proposal.

Nowadays, some families still look forward to arranging marriages, but most Chinese people find their matches on their own. During a traditional wedding proposal, the groom’s family will present the bride with a variety of gifts such as food, desserts, or trinkets. Modern Chinese engagements today are different than those of past traditions. Some ancient traditions are kept for the wedding ceremonies and followed throughout the engagement process.

Chinese engagement gifts for the bride-to-be and her family

India

Hindu traditions require much more effort in planning for the engagement and events leading up to the wedding. One of the Hindu traditions is the groom’s father asks the bride’s father permission for his son to marry his beloved daughter. After approval has been granted by the future bride’s father, they take part in a vow ceremony called Lagna Patrika. This vow is written and signed confirming that the wedding will take place at some future date.

A engaged couple in India enjoy a walk in the park

Most weddings don’t take place until a couple months after signing the Lagna Patrika so that the families can have enough time to plan for all the events that follow the engagement traditions. In some parts of India, engagement rings don’t have to be worn at all. People tend to faithfully follow the ancient traditions and wait for the official ceremony to hand out the wedding rings.

In other parts of the country, wedding bands are usually more common and they are usually worn on the left hand on the second finger to the left. This particular finger on the left hand is said to be the only one with a vein connected it directly to the heart.

Countries all over the world have different traditions and customs when it comes to engagement. We have discussed a few countries’ traditions that are widely practiced today. In most countries rings are required for the official ceremony but not for the engagement. We have discussed how different countries such as China, Germany, and India value engagement to share some of the traditions found around the world.

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