When folk talk of passion they are quick to name the French, or the Italians, with their pretty language and florid flattery. No one ever considers the Irish and our lasting contributions to romantic tradition. We here at Irish Celtic Jewelry would like to address that. So, in the spirit of impending Valentine’s day, as you keep forgetting to pick up something nice for that person means all of a chocolate teddy bear to you, let’s look at some Irish ties and contribution to romance.
Ireland’s most blessed and unusual link to Valentine’s day can be found in the Carmelite Church in Dublin on Whitefriar. Here lie the remains of St. Valentine along along with a drop of his blood. Most of the life of St. Valentine is an uncertain mix of truth and history but most versions have it that Valentine defied Roman Emperor Claudius II by secretly marrying Christians. Claudius, no fan of love but a lover of capital punishment, ordered the future saint beheaded.
It wasn’t until 1835, upon hearing Irish priest Fr. John Spratt preach, that Pope Gregory XVI would decide to make a gift of Valentine’s remains. So be understanding if you don’t get reservations at your favorite restaurant or only get a small box of chocolates this year. They are far more enjoyable than the dust of saints.
Less involved in visceral separation, early Celtic pagans would practice handfasting, having their hands joined ceremoniously by a rope. This was the symbolic equivalent of an engagement, signifying that the two would be true to each other for a period. If all went well, this could lead to a traditional marriage or sometimes to a promise of spiritual fidelity and love. This practice is why the act of marriage is referred to as tying the knot.
For other romantic knots, consider the Celtic love knot. The symbol of your everlasting love. Maybe you’re already entangled in your own Celtic love knot? Maybe just the thought of that special someone is giving you a Celtic love knot in your neck? Well, who are we to question your love? It’s yours. Enjoy it and nurture it. And for all the work you put into a relationship, why not proclaim it for all the world to see?
And if you’ve already found the appropriate special someone and fitted that ring, the hard part’s over, but your work continues. For luck in your union you’ll still need “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and an old Irish penny in her shoe.” The old Irish penny part is often left out now, maybe replaced with euros or just lost to inflation. But wherever it did end up, it’s a tradition meant to bless the marriage with prosperity. No sense in going broke on a pair of comfortable shoes when you’ll be hobbled down the aisle, limping into happiness and fortune.
Whatever you do this Valentine’s make it your own. Enjoy, love be happy and remember, Maireann lá go ruaig ach maireann an grá go huaigh, A day lasts until it’s chased away but love lasts until the grave.