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This well-known rhyme outlines Celtic wedding traditions: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence in your shoe”. Brides still include these items on their wedding day to ensure a successful and prosperous marriage.
There are many Celtic wedding traditions and superstitions; these are just a few of them! To learn more about traditions and how to incorporate Celtic flavor into your wedding day, join us on Sunday June 10 for our “Creating a Celtic Wedding” event. Tickets are $10; for information and tickets go to www.donegalsquare.com/events.
In many cultures, the horseshoe is viewed as a good luck symbol. To the Celts, horseshoes were very lucky because of how highly important livestock was to them, particularly their horses. Irish brides often have a small horseshoe sown into their wedding gown or tucked into their bridal bouquets to give them luck on their wedding day and in their marriage.
In Scotland, it was considered lucky to be married by a blacksmith. Such “anvil weddings” as they were known, were often regarded as slightly reckless and disreputable, much in the way of eloping to Las Vegas today! One border town in Scotland, Gretna Green, is still known for the thousands of couples that come there each year to be married at the blacksmith’s anvil.
Why do the newly married couple leave on a “honeymoon”, anyway? It is sort of a funny name for a special vacation. In ancient times, honey was believed to increase fertility. The wedding couple would often drink Mead (a wine made from honey) during or after their ceremony. The lunar calendar was the driving force of events and seasons in the ancient Celtic world, so couples would often get married at a new moon. Thus it became known as a “honeymoon”.
Today’s modern wedding couples may serve Mead at their wedding reception as a welcome drink for guests and as a way to continue the old Celtic tradition.
In County Cork, there is the tradition of “the last stitch”, where the final stitch in the bride’s gown is done on her wedding day for good luck.
The fairies (or “wee folk”, as they prefer to be called) must be considered when a bride is choosing her accessories to go with her wedding gown. Legend has it that it is unlucky for a bride to wear new shoes on her wedding day. New shoes would entice the fairies to steal the bridal couple and tale them to the magical land of Tir na n’Og.
In ancient times, a bride would wear a veil to hide her from the evil spirits and fairies who would steal her for her fine dress. A veil was also believed to represent purity and chastity.