Irish Christening Gowns & the Irish Tradition
Aren't Irish christening gowns just beautiful, and what about the tradition that surrounds the Irish christening. Irish tradition, like any other, comes with its own variations. The good thing about tradition of any form, is that it can be adapted to suit your own needs.
Symbolism on the christening gown is a personal choice. There are many Irish symbols that can be applied to a gown. From ancient Celtic spirals to the exquisite claddaugh. Research the symbols and you'll find that they have hidden depths and meanings, but for now, here's some basic Celtic symbol descriptions.
Celtic Knots, believed to protect against evil. The more complex the knotting, the greater the protection.
Celtic spirals, believed to be the balance between the inner and the outer consciousness.
Celtic tree of life delivers wisdom, and is also believed to deliver messages from the gods.
Celtic cross, believed to signify the four directions of the wind, and the four seasons.
Shamrock, one of the favorite Irish symbols. The symbol of trinity.
Claddaugh, the symbol of love and friendship.
The tradition behind the Irish christening gown
The Irish believe that for daughters, the christening gown should be one of the three white dresses that she will wear in her lifetime. Her christening/baptism gown, communion/confirmation gown, and of course her wedding gown. All should be white as this symbolizes, purity, joy and new life.
An old Irish custom is to make the christening gown from the mother’s bridal gown. Using lace or fabric from the veil, or other parts of the wedding gown. This is normally made by the mother.
A mother’s first-born child is said to wear part of the bridal gown for her christening, and then when the child marries, part of the christening gown will be re sewn back into the bridal gown!
All of this represents the threads binding together the different generations.
This tradition of course comes with its variations, one of which is that the mother makes her child's christening gown from her own bridal dress, and this then gets handed down through the generations as a family heirloom, rather than being recast into the wedding dress.
Many Irish christening gowns are hand embroidered with symbols. They could have panels made from the old Cluney lace (lace that is so delicate and airy, it resembles crochet stitches) Or it could be made from fine Irish silk or old Irish linen. The beauty of the Irish gown is partly the tradition that lies behind it.
What if you don't have your own gown to hand down through the generations? What if you don't fancy chopping up your wedding dress to make a christening gown! Don't worry, there are plenty of places out there that are perfecting the art of making Irish christening gowns, and then you could start handing that down through your own family, and make your own tradition.
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