There are so many institutions we witness from day to day but we never question. Most of these things we don’t even notice but like a ship underneath us, these institutions carry us forward while we go about our lives. We never see them, we can barely feel them but they are there and they are numerous. For example, driving on the right side of the road. Now, most of us know that in some other countries they drive on left side of the road instead of the right. We are aware of that, some of us might have even been to those countries and see these different customs in action, but we don’t often think about them unless we have to. At best and most of the time, our awareness of these various ideas and customs is limited to a fuzzy overall memory that we don’t usually need. Regional cuisines, for instance, are another custom that we tend not to think about until we have to. Someone who has moved from upstate New York to Oregon is going to find that Oregon is a much different place with a much different local culture and food than where they came from. A small town in upstate New York is very different in living texture than a larger town in Oregon and those differences are never going to be more at the forefront of someone’s mind than when they’ve gone from one place to another with little buffer of time or waiting in between. There are many larger macro versions of this idea in the world and you can find any number of examples if you look. You might visit China, for example, and see a radically different culture than the one you’ve come from. You might move to Canada and have to learn basic French and a whole new set of customs. But often times, there are small regional variations between customs we don’t even notice. We even have those here in the United States between individual states, small differences that we barely notice. What are the examples of some of these customs and how do they affect how people live?
Personalized Rings, Personalized Jewelry and the Story of the Wedding Band
It’s not something that people think of a lot but expressions of intimacy and romance vary wildly from culture to culture and from small place to small place. Personalized rings and fine jewelry are common in many western countries but that doesn’t mean they are super common in the rest of the world. It’s a very specific tradition, in some ways, although the idea of a symbol of intimacy is not. But the personalized ring itself is and it has a very interesting story as to how it got that way. To understand this story, we have to go back a little ways to a time centuries ago when things like jewelry and precious stones weren’t just slightly expensive items that you needed to save salary for. Back in the medieval era, the best examples they had of something like wedding rings or personalized rings were the gifts given between monarchs and nobility to symbolize ceremonial weddings and governmental contracts. This use of jewelry, while intimate, was largely ceremonial and was used less as an expression of deep emotion than it was for political maneuvering and a show of pure power.
Getting to the Modern Day
So how did this custom slowly change over the centuries? Well the story is trade, mostly. As the Age of Exploration continued, countries came into contact with one another and began to trade vast amounts of goods that were specific to their specific countries. This new influx of goods changed the face of global society on a basic level, with new crops and imports being moved to places they had never been before. Potatoes, known far and wide as an Irish staple, are not, in fact, Irish at all but were bred by empires in South America. The spread of jewelry and personalized rings was no different and slowly jewels became a commodity for expression by the spread of trade.