Valentine’s Day: Romantic Irish Traditions
It’s hard to avoid Valentine’s Day these days, and although some people have come to regard it as a Hallmark Holiday, it’s given us the chance to reflect on romantic Irish traditions throughout the ages.
So whether you’re a single pringle or looking for alternative ways to celebrate your love, here are some classic romantic Irish traditions:
- The Claddagh Ring
The Claddagh ring is said to have originated in the Claddagh fishing village in County Galway and was used as a wedding ring to symbolise love, loyalty and friendship.
How you wear the ring is supposed to communicate your relationship status. Irish author Colin Murphy dictates the following rules for wearing the Claddagh ring:
- On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips: the wearer is single and may be looking for love.
- On the right hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist: the wearer is in a relationship.
- On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the fingertips: the wearer is engaged.
- On the left hand with the point of the heart toward the wrist: the wearer is married.
Sounds much more romantic than a Facebook status!
- Irish Love Poems
From W.B. Yeats to Oscar Wilde to James Joyce, Ireland has long been home to some of the most eloquent voices when it comes to matters of the heart. But rather than list out all of our fabulous Irish authors; here’s a perfect example of one:
Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
- B. Yeats
If you fancy yourself a bit of a wordsmith, make Valentine’s Day 2018 the year you finally put pen to paper for that special someone.
- Irish Legends
We’re a country of great history, myth and legend and amongst the great Irish tales are ones of true romance. The story of Diarmuid and Gráinne contains all the ingredients of an epic romance: beauty, lust, betrayal, tragedy… Titanic, eat your heart out!
If you’re looking for things to do for Valentine’s Day, we are holding our very own storytelling evening here at the Irish Whiskey Museum.
- Leap Day Proposals
Legend has it that St. Patrick and St. Brigid made a deal way back when that women could propose to their reluctant beaux on 29th February. Whatever the dubious root of this tradition may be, it’s just one more example of strange romantic traditions in Ireland. Unfortunately, 2018 is not a leap year, so why not propose on Valentine’s Day instead?
- Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival
The tradition of matchmaking in Ireland is an old one, but is still very relevant to Irish culture today. Rural Ireland can be a tricky place to meet people, especially for those in more isolated professions such as farming. To that end, the spirit of the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival is still very much alive and well.
With music and dancing providing ample opportunity to meet people, the hordes still descend on this quiet spa town in County Clare every year. Although it’s not held around Valentine’s Day, this is a romantic Irish tradition that has stood the test of time.
- Hand Fasting ceremonies
These days’ people tend to exchange rings during their wedding ceremonies, but in ancient Celtic Ireland there were some different ways of vowing to love and honour your new spouse. Hand fasting involved the couple clasping hands while a ribbon or rope was used to bind the hands together.
Romantic Celtic traditions in Ireland are back in a big way, and nowadays it is more and more common to see hand fasting performed as part of a wedding ceremony in Ireland.
If rose petals, heart shaped cookies, teddy bears and romantic dinners all seem a bit old hat after reading that, take a leaf out of romantic Ireland’s book and get creative this Valentine’s Day!