Irish Wedding Customs

Irish Wedding Cake Recipe

Handfasting is an old Irish ceremony of commitment. The ceremony formalized a relationship, whether an engagement, a permanent marriage, or a marriage over several lifetimes. This Celtic ceremony of unity represents the intention of a man and a woman to make their lives together and ideally to love and cherish one another.

The Celtic harvest festival of Lughnasaon, on August 1st, was greatly anticipated, not only because of gratitude for the harvest, but because by the end of it, many couples had formed, were handfasted, and went off for a year of marriage. They would renew their vows the following year, a year-and-a-day later.

Handfasting goes back to ancient times in Ireland, as do the Irish Brehon laws, which are the oldest, most original and most extensive of medieval European legal systems. When marriages were not always what we today think of as traditional, it was practiced even in Christian Ireland. There were not always priests around to perform the wedding ceremony and it was not even a requirement that the marriage be witnessed for it to be legally binding once the couple had performed the ceremony.

In handfasting, the wrists of the couple are bound together with a ribbon or cord. Each party holds the hands of the other, right hand to right hand, left hand to left, their wrists crossed. The ribbon is wound around the wrists, over the top of one and under and around the other, creating the infinity symbol. It is said that this practice is the origin of the term "tying the knot". The vows were spoken and the celebration commenced.

Under Brehon law, there was an understanding that marriages didn't always work out, and incompatible couples needn't stay together, but the care of children, division of property, and inheritances were serious matters, and provisions were made under these sophisticated laws. Today, the laws of the Catholic Church, however, do not go for this ideology.

In a Celtic ceremony, everything has meaning, including the music, the flowers, the braids in the bride's hair, the rings and even the use of evergreen garland around the doorways.

Here are some interesting ancient Irish wedding traditions.

The groom's proposal may not be "Will you marry me?", but something more like "Would you like to be buried with my people?" or "Would you like to hang your washing next to mine?".

The bride would follow ancient Irish traditions of her own, which mostly consisted of things to avoid bad luck.

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 Irish Wedding Items
PictureProductPrice Bids Time Left
Sterling Silver Celtic Claddagh Mens Ring Irish sz 8 9 10 11 12 13 925 wedding$34.99 1h 20m
Sterling Silver Claddagh Ring "Wedding Coin" Irish Made celtic jewellery 925$39.99 3h 30m
Silver Celtic Claddagh Mens Ring Irish sz J,L,N,P,R,T,V,X,Z,Z3,Z4 925 wedding$34.99 5h 27m
Silver Celtic Claddagh Mens Ring Irish sz J,L,N,P,R,T,V,X,Z,Z3,Z4 925 wedding$34.99 6h 21m
Sterling Silver "My Soul Mate" Claddagh Band Wedding Ring Set Irish sz celtic$64.99 7h 29m
14K White Gold Sterling Silver Celtic Claddagh Band Wedding Ring Set Irish sz$49.99 8h 59m
14K White Gold "Love Forever" Wedding Ring Band Set Irish Made sz celtic$907.99 9h 24m
14k White Gold Silver Celtic Claddagh Men Ring Irish Sz 8 9 10 11 12 13 wedding$39.99 9h 38m
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