Celtic Wedding

Celtic Love Symbols for Weddings & A Craft Project For You
By Kathi Hennesey

As wedding season gets into full swing, future brides and grooms, along with their families, are busy planning their special day and looking for ways to make it unique and memorable. One popular and time-honored practice is to include symbols of family cultural heritage. And so the wedding day joins two people, celebrates their newly-shared ancestry, and strengthens the bonds between generations.

Our rubber stamps focus on Scottish, Irish and Welsh love symbols, so we want to share ways to incorporate using them for a wedding. The wonderful thing is that these expressions of love and affection can be used before, during and after the big day. As symbols of the new couple‘s bond, they‘re perfect for special occasion gifts and cards, such as anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine‘s Day, Christmas and baby showers.

Most readers here will be familiar with the popular symbols of the love bond used by these cultures for wedding ceremonies: The Scottish luckenbooth, the Irish claddagh and the Welsh love spoon.

Scottish Luckenbooth

The Scottish luckenbooth usually includes one or two hearts with a crown on top, and can include other embellishments such as a thistle. The tradition of the Scottish luckenbooth dates back to the 15th century, when these types of brooches – usually made of silver – were given as betrothal or wedding gifts, then pinned to the newborn children for protection.

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Irish Claddagh

The  Irish claddagh features a crown and a heart held by two hands. Legend tells us that the crown stands for loyalty, the heart for love, and the hands for friendship. The claddagh ring has been a traditional design for engagement and wedding rings, in Ireland, for generations. It continues to be extremely popular today.

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Welsh Love Spoon

The Welsh love spoon, carved from wood, can include a variety of designs on the handle, including hearts, locks, crosses, bells, dragons, wheels and Celtic knotwork. It was traditionally given to a young woman by her suitor. The earliest known dated Welsh love spoon dates from 1667.

Knotwork Hearts

For a more universal Celtic-theme – and less specifically Scottish, Irish or Welsh – there are wonderful knotwork heart designs to symbolize unending love or the joining of two people in the love bond. The familiar symbol of the heart representing love and romance developed in 15th century Europe and its popular use with Celtic knotwork is a perfect marriage of designs.

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Wedding Stationery

So with a few specific motifs in mind, we return to the idea of using them for a wedding. The perfect place to introduce a special love symbol is on stationery: the engagement announcements, then the wedding/shower invitations and save-the-date cards. Many couples choose to design and create these items themselves, or have them custom made with their unique symbol and added personalization. The Scottish luckenbooth, Irish claddagh, Welsh love spoon and Celtic knotwork hearts, with all their variations, are all beautiful and elegant designs for stationery and paper products.

Creative Ideas

For the big day itself, the possibilities are endless. From the guest book, to the décor, wedding favors and gifts, this is a place for creativity to shine.

Here are some places where Celtic, Scottish, Irish and Welsh love symbols can be used:

  • Guest book cover and guest book table décor (setting the stage!)
  • Decorations: Banners, wedding favors, table cards and card holders.
  • Wedding reception: Engraved glasses for bride and groom toasts, unity candles.
  • Wedding cake: Cake topper, cake pulls (special themed charms), cake embellishments, engraved/decorated cake serving sets..
  • Gifts for bride and groom: Household items, such as engraved glassware, wall plaques, photo frames, framed prints, keepsake ornaments.
  • Jewelry worn by the bride and her bridesmaids, wedding rings (especially the Irish claddagh).
  • Groomsmen gifts: Engraved money clips, flasks/barware, business card holders, and pocket watches.

After the wedding, love symbols can continue the theme in wedding scrapbooks and memory books, thank-you cards and even anniversary gifts.  Keepsake items from the wedding, such as toasting glasses engraved with love symbols, can be displayed in the newly-married couple’s home.

Just The Beginning

This article just scratches the surface, but hopefully it will provide a few ideas and some inspiration for anyone involved with an upcoming wedding. There’s no lack of wonderful websites with many more ideas and DIY projects that can be found through Internet searches. Pinterest is also a great place to browse for themed wedding boards and great visuals.

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Let us end with an Irish wedding toast:

Here’s to you both, a beautiful pair
On the birthday of your love affair
Here’s to the husband and here’s to the wife
May yourselves be lovers for the rest of your life

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Muslin Bag Crafting How-To

Get the Free PDF for stamping on muslin bags – CLICK HERE

 

These handy little bags are great for lots of uses:

  • jewelry – keep it protected
  • jewelry – gift bags
  • wedding favors – fill with Jordan almonds or chocolate
  • wedding favors – fill with rice or bird seed to throw
  • gift bags – whatever your imagination decides
  • bag for selling items – rubber stamps set and a mini ink pad

Want more ideas for muslin bags?
Put the following in your search engine, and click on images.

MUSLIN BAGS DIY IMAGES

Click on images below and save (if PDF file won’t come up for you) (I apologize, but I am having a dickens of a time trying to get PDFs to load properly in this web builder. I’m just not tech-savvy enough. Thank you for your understanding.)

MuslinBagDIY2018
MuslinBagDIY2018

I Heart St Valentine

A bit of Valentine history

Valentine’s Day is possibly the most worldwide of celebrations: heart-shaped candies and flowers are exchanged on February 14th in the U.S., China, Brazil, Iran, and almost everywhere else on the planet. But originally, the observance had nothing to do with romantic love, and virtually nothing is known about the man—or men—after whom the day is named.

Multiple Saint Valentines?

There were several—perhaps dozens—of “Valentines” in early Christian history; it was a fairly common name in Imperial Rome. Many Valentines were Christians persecuted and martyred by Roman authorities, and the Church conflated their deeds, both real and imagined, in creating a composite “Saint Valentine.”

 

The two most likely actual candidates are Valentine of Interamna, who was consecrated a bishop in AD 197 and persecuted by Emperor Aurelian (this was before the Empire became officially Christian) and Valentine of Rome, who was murdered in AD 496.

 

Both saints were buried on the Via Flaminia, though in different places. Therefore, the proper way to state the Christian observance day was actually “Saint Valentines’ Day.” Many church frescoes and stained glasses depicted both saints. Almost nothing is known of their lives or deeds, however.

Sacrifice not love

Chaucer_Hoccleve

Since both of the most prominent Valentines (and many of the others as well) had been martyred, the Feast of Saint Valentine was originally associated with sacrifice, not with romantic love. It first became associated with romance due to Chaucer, who mentioned it in Parliament of Fowles in 1382: “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”

 

Other poets and storytellers gradually followed Chaucer’s lead and spoke of the day as the beginning of spring and the time when the birds came out and romantic love would flourish.

But it’s still winter

However, if you’re shoveling snow from your driveway after a blizzard on February 14th, you might be wondering just what the heck Chaucer was thinking.

 

The answer is that the Julian calendar was off—way off—by Chaucer’s time.
The Romans recognized that the year is not 365, but rather, 365 ¼ days long, and so invented the leap year—the signature feature of the Julian calendar. However…the year is actually twenty minutes shorter than 365.25 days—the Julian calendar made the year too long.

 

The result was that the start of spring (and all other fixed events) sneaked “backward” about three days every four centuries, so that thirteen centuries after the Julian calendar was introduced, in Chaucer’s time, spring was indeed coming—and the birds were mating—in mid-February.

Re-branding a saint

This brings us back to the Christian Saint Valentines. The Christian Church and religion spread rapidly worldwide in large part due to history’s first successful mass marketing campaigns, many of which involved what we call today “re-branding.” Recognizing that resistance to their new religion would be less if pagan cultural practices were incorporated into Christianity rather than having it replace them, Church authorities installed new, modern versions of Pagan holidays such as the winter solstice celebration (Christmas), “day of the dead” festivals (All Saint’s Day), and so forth.

 

Valentine’s Day evolved in part because another extremely common celebration in almost every society, then and now, is the “coming of spring.” The Romans had Lupercal, a several-days-long festival of drinking, dancing, and “making whoopee,” which was a perfect time to install a more Christian celebration.

From sacrificial mourning to celebrations of love

The thing is, when early Christian authorities decreed February 14th to be the day to revere Saint Valentine(s), the date was in winter—ideal for mourning and remembrance. It was only due to the creeping inaccuracy of the Julian calendar that by Chaucer’s time, the date was when the snow started melting and the birdies started singing. People began to regard the day as a marker of the coming of spring. (In 1582 Pope Gregory fixed the problem, but the British didn’t adopt the Gregorian Calendar until 1752.)

 

The Church, still skilled in re-branding, decided to respond to this (unstoppable) trend by making up some legends to associate one Valentine or the other with romantic love. The earlier Valentine, of Interamna, was now said to have performed secret marriages for Roman soldiers who had converted to Christianity (still highly illegal at the time). He was also purported to have cut out paper hearts as a token of affection for his friends, and he supposedly wore an amethyst ring (the February birthstone). He also cured a young girl, the daughter of his jailer, of blindness. All these legends, and more, were piled on well after the fact, however, by chroniclers ranging from the 8th-century Bede to 18th-century ecumenical councils.

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Paper hearts

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Valentine, or Valentines, proved to be a highly reusable and malleable symbol. When the Christian Church realized that they didn’t have a coming of spring celebration, they changed St. Valentine from a bishop who had had his head chopped off to a hopeless romantic who married people in secret and handed out paper hearts (a much happier celebration). Love was (officially) in the air!

 

Add to all that the remarkable greeting card industry that sprang up during the Victorian era and you have our modern version of Valentine’s Day.

 

By guest contributor:  Kevin M. Lewis

 

Images from Wikipedia