Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of the Irish holiday, we want to share some of our favorite Irish wedding traditions and the history of St. Patrick. While this post is merely just for fun, if something tickles your fancy, save this post so that you can incorporate it into your vows or ceremony!
Irish Wedding Traditions
The Wedding Date
In Irish tradition, there are songs and folklore about when you should get married, more specifically the season and day of the week. Sunday was a popular date to get married in earlier times as many people didn’t have work this day. Because of the start of the Pagan feast, Bealtane, a marriage during the summer was not likely. These beliefs are recognized by an old marriage song:
Marry when the year is new, always loving, kind, and true.
When February birds do mate, you may wed, nor dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you’ll know.
Marry in April when you can, joy for maiden and for man.
Marry in the month of May, you will surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses blow, over land and sea you’ll go.
They who in July do wed, must labor always for their bread.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change are sure to see.
Marry in September’s shine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November, only joy will come, remember.
When December’s rain fall fast, marry and true love will last.
Horseshoes & Shamrocks
As many of you already know, horseshoes and shamrocks are the all-encompassing symbols of luck from Irish heritage. A bride carries a horseshoe on her wedding day, but before she brings it down the aisle, it hangs where the ceremony will take place. To make it more modern, many brides incorporate a horseshoe in her bouquet as a charm or sews one into the inside of her dress.
Shamrocks are also a symbol of luck, but tits origin is from St. Patrick using it as a symbol of the holy trinity while carrying out his Christian mission. We notice lots of green within wedding palettes during March, so it’s no surprise that it’s in honor of this holiday and lucky symbol.
Tying the Knot
Wonder where this phrase comes from? Irish wedding traditions! During the nuptials, couples perform a traditional handfasting ceremony to symbolize their unity. Tying a celtic knot binding the new Mr. and Mrs. is a wonderful Irish wedding tradition occuring within the ceremony or, like in earlier days, well before the wedding day. Almost like an engagement, the couple performs a handfast ceremony for one year and one day- basically like a marriage trial run.
Many couples these days incorporate the handfasting into their ceremony using ribbons that go with their wedding palette. Or they can use special cords made for this kind of ceremony. It’s a great way to have family members and loved ones involved in the ceremony as they can tie the knot for you!
Traditional Irish Music
Though people often mistake bagpipes for an Irish musical instrument, Uilleann pipes are the traditional kind. Bagpipes are Scottish. Uilleann pipes sound quieter and sweeter. Typically played by a musician wearing an Irish kilt. A harp is lesser well-known than Uilleann pipes, yet still such a beautiful Irish wedding tradition. Incorporate these instruments into your ceremony by having a professional musician playing it while you walk down the aisle. Also, after your officiant pronounces you husband (or wife) and wife.
Claddagh rings are the epitome of an Irish engagement ring. It showcases two hands holding a heart gemstone or diamond with a crown above it. The ring faces outward (pointed side of heart facing away from bride) before the wedding. Once the couple weds, the bride then turns the ring towards her, symbolizing her marital status.
Traditional Irish Wedding Poems & Proverbs
Irish weddings don’t go without reciting some traditional blessings and poems during their ceremony. There are many to choose from, but here are our favorites from Gaelic Matters:
May your neighbors respect you
May trouble neglect you
May the angels protect you
And may heaven accept you
You for me and I for thee and never another. Your face turned to mine and away from all others.
(bride to her spouse, in private)
“May your mornings bring joy and your evenings bring peace.
May your troubles grow few as your blessings increase.
May the saddest day of your future
Be no worse than the happiest day of your past.
May your hands be forever clasped in friendship
And your hearts joined forever in love.
Your lives are very special,
God has touched you in many ways.
May his blessings rest upon you
And fill all your coming days.”
May you enjoy your new life
Gaelic Translation: Go maire sibh bhur saol nua
There’s no cure for love except to marry.
Gaelic Translation: Níl aon leigheas ar an ngrá ach pósadh.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
Slow to make enemies,
Quick to make friends,
But rich or poor, quick or slow,
May you know nothing but
Happiness from this day forward.
History of St. Patrick
Contrary to belief, St. Patrick was not Irish, nor was even born in Ireland. He was born in Britain of Roman descent and captured into the Irish slavery as a shepherd. After 6 years, he managed to flee back to Britain. While enslaved, Patrick prayed and prayed to be reunited with his family. Until one night, he had a vision that a ship was leaving Ireland and he could catch it. His prayers were finally heard and he was back together again with his family in Britain. During his time in Ireland, he grew a profound relationship with the Lord and even in his passage, Confessio, the Voice of the Irish tormented him saying, “Come back to us, Patrick”.
Once Patrick was ordained, he returned back to Ireland as a missionary. While there, Patrick was determined to accomplish two goals: to convert the pagan Irish, and set up structures and dioceses to support the missionary of Ireland. Through preaching and baptizing, Patrick became a patron saint of Ireland, popularizing his influence on the Catholic Church. He is also responsible for leaving us the Celtic Cross, which is a huge symbol even today.
What are some of your favorite Irish traditions? Anything we missed that you are having as a part of your wedding? Tell us in the comments below!