SERIES Why do we wear earrings? (1/4)

Sometimes a fashion accessory, sometimes a cultural or religious rite, the earring has transcended the centuries to establish itself as an essential fashion accessory. The reasons may vary from continent to continent, from one culture to another. Let’s decipher together some of the meanings of wearing this little gem.


Initially, the purpose of earrings was, as was the case with jewelry, to protect the wearer. At the time, the ears were seen as openings allowing the access to the mind and its knowledge. Thus, in ancient times, in order to preserve the ear from harmful sounds and words, amulets had to be placed near the orifices; a belief found in many civilizations.

In many cultures, it is still common to pierce a baby’s ears from birth. For example in Romania, when the same family saw several newborns perish in the cradle, it was customary to protect the youngest from any evil influence by inserting an earring.

The earring that your mother gave you
Beware of evil spirits
I like it as it suits you
Because it didn’t protect you from me

Denise Pop-Câmpeanu

In the marine world, these accessories made of precious metal were talismans that protected mariners, including pirates, from the dangers of the sea (storms, drowning or shipwrecks). Most of the time it was a gold or silver ring. No doubt to materialize the “engagement” between the sailor and the ocean. Other beliefs claim that the rings would be a treasure that could be cashed in when needed. In particular to pay for the funeral of the sailor who died far from home.

Photo credit: Cisséo – Flickr

So, one of the first functions would simply be protection. After all, no matter where we come from, we all need to believe in something that will protect us.

Read Part 2 of the series, and learn more about earrings:

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