If you haven’t started your Christmas shopping yet, you’re probably thinking about what to buy all your friends and loved ones this holiday season. If you are interested in Celtic jewelry designs, or know someone who is, you may find the symbolism and history of Celtic designs very appropriate for the Christmas season.
Celtic designs are intricate and rich with detail: the meanings of the common symbols are related to spirituality and the love of God. If you share this faith in a higher power, you will enjoy the beauty and deeper significance of Celtic designs.
The most common symbols in Celtic design are a mixture of true Irish symbols, such as Shamrocks and the Claddagh, as well as Celtic knot work and crosses. These are all religious symbols, with the exception of the Claddagh, which is more romantic in nature. If you want to honor the heritage of a loved one or friend on Christmas morning, any of these symbols will do.
The knot work so prevalent in Celtic designs is ancient and can be traced back to relics like The Book of Kells, Ireland’s greatest national art treasure. The intricate borders drawn by Irish artists to decorate the pages of this book are very similar to the knot work you will find today on Celtic rings, pendants, and earrings. There is something mysterious and beautiful about such knot work: its curving lines are always interconnected, and they are thought to represent eternity.
Shamrocks also have a spiritual connection: Saint Patrick used the three leaves of the Shamrock to symbolize the presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the world all around us. He used the Shamrock to convert the Irish to Christ, and it remains Ireland’s most beloved symbol.
The Claddagh is linked to the Irish storytelling tradition: while not religious in nature, it is still linked to the other symbols, in that is represents faithfulness and love. The story of the first Claddagh ring is very romantic and touching: a fisherman, Robert Joyce, was kidnapped by a goldsmith, and forced to work far away from the woman he loved. The fisherman never forgot his true love, and he fashioned a special ring in her honor, with two tiny hands gently clasping a crowned heart. A Claddagh ring is a wonderful way to tell your partner how much you care on Christmas morning.
The Celtic Cross is a popular choice for Celtic pendants, and its rugged, simple lines are rich with meaning. Like many Celtic symbols, its exact meaning remains cloaked in mystery, but the four points of the cross are thought to represent the four directions: east, west, north and south: the center circle of the cross is believed to represent eternity.
Whatever you choose, Celtic jewelry is a natural choice for Christmas time, and it beauty will endure for many Christmases to come. Celtic jewelry often becomes an heirloom, to be passed down from generation to generation, as it is such an important reminder of a family’s history and ancestry.