Irish wedding traditions date far back in history and many have survived in one form or another today. These Irish wedding traditions were rooted in nature came from folklore and superstitions for generations. passed on generations. Today Irish couples around the world seek to incorporate these ancient Irish wedding traditions in their modern-day wedding as a way pay tribute or to reconnect with their Irish heritage.
Have you ever heard the phrase “HIS GOOSE IS COOKED”?
The expression ‘his goose is cooked’ is still in use in Ireland and especially in Dublin. The phrase originated from the tradition of cooking a goose for the groom in the Bride’s house the night before the wedding. Once the goose was cooked there was simply no going back!
TYING THE KNOT… the Celtic Knot
Perhaps the best-known Irish Wedding Tradition that most people don’t know about is tying the knot. Did you know the phrase “Tying the Knot” originated with the ancient Celtic ceremony of hand fasting? This old Celtic tradition symbolizes the joining of two as one like the exchanging of rings today. The couple clasps their hands together and a brightly colored cord in the bridal party colors is wrapped around their hands as a symbol of their unity in marriage.
IRISH LACE, an Irish Wedding Tradition
Irish Lace is commonly used as an Irish Wedding Tradition. Irish lace began in the 1800’s many families in Ireland lived in small thatched cottages on land called crofts producing crops for the Lord of the Manor. Crofters were “dirt poor” with little money for necessities. Then the potato blight hit between 1845 and 1851 destroying the crops and causing thousands of families to starve. The Ursuline nuns were familiar with Venetian lace, brought over from France. The nuns used their skills in crocheting lace to help save the people from the famine. They began schooling women to produce the fine crochet that has come to be known as “Irish lace.” The more affluent Irish families that could meet the expense to buy the lace earned the name of “lace curtain Irish.” Families had their own designs and motifs and closely guarded their patterns which were passed from mother to daughter. The particulars were kept so secret that many of them vanished as the families either died or fled the poverty for other lands.
FLOWERS and Shamrocks of course
For good luck to the marriage, a sprig of shamrocks is tucked into the bouquet. The lucky Shamrock is also the symbol of Ireland. It is also customary to decorate the house that the wedding celebration was held in with locally grown flowers and plants. These would vary according to the time of the year that the wedding was held. Some plants have become associated with Ireland, not least the now readily available ‘Bells of Ireland’, used in modern times for its symbolism. A Celtic tradition in Wales involves the plant Myrtle which is presented by the Bride to the Bridesmaids who then plant it in their gardens. If the plant grew, then the Bridesmaid would be married before the year is out!
THE MAGIC HANKY
It is now usual for the ‘magic hanky’ to be made from Linen although it is likely the original versions were made from cheaper materials. It was usual for the Bride to carry the hanky on her wedding day and for it to be retained and later converted to a Christening hat/bonnet for her first child. The hanky would be passed on from generation to generation to be re-used in a similar manner.
THE CLADDAGH RING
Irish jewelry is known to be steeped in irish tradition. It is quite common for a traditional Claddagh Ring to be used at an Irish wedding, as a wedding band. The ring is faced outwards prior to the wedding and reversed to face inwards on the hand after the wedding, indicating that the bearer is taken forever! The Claddagh Ring is one of the most well-known romantic symbols of Ireland.
THE LUCKY HORSESHOE
The tradition of a horseshoe is well known throughout the world and so it is in Ireland. By placing the horseshoe upright over a door or in a room the ‘luck of the house’ was kept intact. The Greeks associated the horseshoe with the crescent moon and its symbolism of fertility. The tradition was popular throughout Ireland and England too with the readily available horseshoe being carried by the Bride as she walked down the aisle. It was then affixed securely by the Groom in the matrimonial home. Today, glass and ceramic horseshoes are symbolically used at Irish wedding ceremonies.
WEDDING BELLS and the Make Up Bell
The use of Church bells in Christian religions is symbolic of driving away the evil spirits from the marriage to be. In Penal times in Ireland this was not possible, so the gift of a small bell acted as a substitute. Modern Irish weddings often have stationery, invitations, bunting, and decorations adorned with bells, hearts, shamrocks, and horseshoes. A small glass or ceramic bell can be used in the Church service and kept as a memento. It is a tradition in Ireland to present a couple with a “make-up” bell for their wedding or anniversary, even engagement. The chime of bells is thought to keep evil spirits away and to restore harmony if a couple is fighting. The sound of the bell, much like a church bell is to remind a couple of their wedding vows. This bell is also rung when one partner is ready to “make up” and end any little quarrel. Each partner should take turns ringing the bell, lest a quarrel begin again.
IRISH WEDDING SUPERSTITIONS
It is considered better luck to get married during a time of plenty. A bountiful harvest year is a good omen for any newly married couple. It is better that a man be the first person to wish joy and happiness to the new Bride, and never a woman.
A wedding party should always avoid crossing paths with a Funeral procession. Seems like an obvious one.
Upon the bride and groom leaving the Church paper confetti to tossed at the betrothed, but in ancient times an old shoe was tossed over the head of the Bride for luck – not so lucky if it hits the Bride though!
Placing a statue of ‘the Child of Prague’, a small statue of the Holy Infant Jesus, in the garden of the Bride prior to the wedding is supposed to ensure that her big day is blessed by nice weather.
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