Celtic Marriage Tradition

  • Celtic Marriage Tradition
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    Celtic Handfasting

    Handfasting is a wedding ritual in which the bride's and groom's hands are tied together. It is said to be based on an ancient Celtic tradition and to have inspired the phrase "tying the knot". "Handfasting" is favoured by practitioners of Celtic-based religions and spiritual traditions, such as Wicca and Druidism.

    Finnish customs

    In Finland, a tradition is for the bride-to-be to go from door to door with a pillowcase, to receive wedding gifts. Often, an older, married man accompanies her, holding an umbrella or parasol over her head to shelter her. This symbolises protecting and sheltering the new bride. On the day of the wedding, the bride may wear a golden crown on her head. At the wedding reception, the Dance of the Crown is performed, where the bridesmaids blindfold the bride and dance around her. The bride then places the crown on the head of one of the bridesmaids, who tradition dictates will be the next to marry. Traditionally, the bride and groom sit next to each other in designated "seats of honour" at the wedding reception. The bride holds in her lap a sieve covered by a shawl, into which monetary gifts are put by the guests. In some weddings, the bride's mother-in-law or godmother will place a china plate on the bride's head, after which the newlyweds will perform the first dance (usually a waltz). When the plate falls and breaks, the guests collect the pieces. The number of pieces determines how many children the couple will have.

    The last dance in a Finnish wedding is called the weaning waltz. All the female guests dance with the bride and all the male guests dance with the groom, including children. Each guest only dances with the bride or groom for a brief period before moving on. This custom was originally conceived as a test to see how quickly the bride and groom will "forget" each other (i.e. how long they will dance with each other before moving on to a guest).