5 Fascinating Irish Wedding Traditions Explained

Est. Reading: 3 minutes
November 24, 2023
celtic wedding tying knot on hands
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Each country has their own unique wedding traditions – and Ireland is definitely no different!

Irish weddings are immersed in beautiful traditions thanks to the amount of history, myths, and superstitions that have been ingrained into our culture over the centuries.

In this article, we take a look at five of the most fascinating Irish wedding traditions to include when planning your own wedding day!

Celtic Handfasting

Probably one of the most well-known Irish wedding traditions, these sacred handfasting ceremonies date back to Ireland’s pagan past.

Ancient Celtic couples came together to tie a braided cord around their crossed hands – this hallowed ritual symbolised their love and desire to be bound in unity.

For some, their vows would last for one year and one day, acting as an engagement. Once this time passed, if the couple wanted to stay together, then a more official ceremony was held – if not, they were free to go their separate ways.

Interestingly, handfasting is also believed to be the inspiration for the common expression “Tying the knot”.

Child Of Prague

statue of the child jesus of pragueDating back to 1556, the ‘Child of Prague’ is a wax-coated wooden statue of the child Jesus.

Strangely enough for some though, this little statue is frequently called upon to help prevent rain on the day of Irish weddings.

Originating in the 19th century, most customs insist on placing the statue outside the bride’s house – ideally buried underground or tucked under a hedge – to guarantee fine weather for the big day. Other customs maintain it should be placed outside the church for best results.

There’s also another tradition that states its ‘powers’ are strongest if the head is removed – though this must happen accidentally!

The Irish Honeymoon

homemade mead in glass bottlesSome people believe the term ‘honeymoon’ actually originated in ancient Ireland.

The story goes that newlywed Irish couples would celebrate their wedding by drinking Mead – a form of alcoholic ‘brew’ made using honey. This Mead ‘celebration’ would last for the entirety of their wedding day, and for one full moon after (approximately one month), to help promote fertility and to keep the fairies away.

Interestingly, honeymoon in Irish is “Mí na meala” – literally “the month of honey”.

The Wedding Horseshoe

married couple kissing next to horseshoesHorseshoes are generally considered good luck in just about any culture they appear – in Ireland, this also extends to weddings.

Giving a horseshoe as a gift for the bride is an age-old Irish tradition still popular today – it’s thought to bring the couple good luck both during the ceremony and throughout their long life together.

Claddagh Rings

a gold claddagh ring on an open bookWhen it comes to traditional Irish wedding jewellery, Claddagh rings are especially popular.

Named after an area close to Galway city centre, where River Corrib meets Galway Bay, this style of jewellery dates back to the 17th Century.

Composed of two hands clasping a heart, and seen a symbol of friendship, loyalty, love, and marriage, many Irish mothers pass these rings down through the generations.

According to tradition, a woman wearing the Claddagh on her right ring finger with the point of the heart aimed outwards was available for marriage, whilst a woman with the heart turned in was spoken for.

Check out our own range of Claddagh designs here.

Looking for Traditional Irish Wedding Jewellery?

At Martin Gear Jewellers we have decades of experience in fine Irish jewellery. We’re also one of the only jewellers in Dublin with an onsite manufacturing workshop – meaning if you can’t find that something special for your wedding, that we’ll craft it for you.

Simply drop into our store on 5 Mary St, Dublin 1, or give us a call on (01) 872 8726.

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