Irish Wedding Customs

We are all proud of our heritage, but many of us do not know our ancestors’ customs, particularly when it comes to matrimony.

In Ireland and other countries, there are many customs that have been passed from generation to generation. These may not be the most popular Irish customs, but they are very interesting, especially if you have Irish blood.
The Claddagh Ring: Named after the Claddagh fishing village in Galway, the Claddagh ring has been handed down from mother to daughter and is used as both a betrothal and wedding ring. It is worn with the crowns toward the knuckle on betrothal, and toward the nail to symbolize marriage. A famous Irish ballad has been written about the Calddagh ring:

“The Old Claddagh Ring.
It was my grandmother’s,
She wore it her lifetime
and give it to me.”

Lucky Horseshoe: Irish brides used to carry a real horseshoe for good luck (turned up so the luck won’t run out). You can acquire porcelain horseshoes, which most Irish brides carry in modern day, or one made of fabric which is worn on the wrist.

Magic Handkerchief: This charming custom involves having the bride carry a special hanky that with a few stitches can be turned into a christening bonnet for the first baby. With a couple of snips it can be turned back into a hanky that your child may carry on his/her wedding day.

The Honeymoon: The word for honey is meala in Irish. The word for honeymoon is mi na meala, the month of honey, and refers to how the bride and groom spend that period of time. Irish monks first produced the fermented honey brew called mead for medicinal purposes, then found it could make well people feel even better. Following the wedding, a sufficient amount of mead was given to the bride and groom, along with special goblets, so they could share the unique brew for one full moon after their wedding---and thus the term honeymoon was coined. It was believed that this delicate yet potent drink was the best way to ensure a good beginning for a new marriage, and was also believed to endow powers of virility and fertility.

Make-up bells: The chime of bells is thought to keep evil spirits away and restore harmony if a couple is arguing. A bell also reminds a couple of their wedding vows. Giving a bell as a shower or wedding gift has become a favorite Irish tradition.

Compliments of Kathleen Butz


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