Traditional Celtic Symbols of Love and Folklore

Celtic symbols of love are some of the longest-lasting references to romance. The ancient Celts lived throughout northern Europe during the Iron Age (from 500 BC to 400 AD), developing a rich cultural legacy, including jewelry, language and symbols. Because of their prominence in early European cultures, some signs and symbols of the Celts have survived through the centuries.

Celtic Love Knots: From simple to ornate, Celtic love knots symbolize endless love and the bonds of eternity. One popular symbol is the double triskele (three-cornered knot). A single triskele represents a person, so two joined triskeles were often used to represent marriage and love. While scholars are quick to say that there is no evidence that ancient Celts attributed the knots to any emotion, later generations who were deeply influenced by the delicate and intricate Celtic love knot designs were quick to make the association with endless love.

Celtic Spoon: Legends tell of a young man who carved an intricate wooden spoon as a gift for his love. Soon, detailed spoons became the traditional gift of betrothal. In later centuries, more contemporary symbols representing love were added to the designs, including harps, hearts and bells.

Bull: The ancient Celts felt that the bull best represented virility and endurance for men and fertility for women. Many bedchambers were decorated with statues of bulls, or the image would be embroidered on pillows and blankets for the bedroom. Jewelry and other Celtic metalwork often featured the image of a bull, a powerful Celtic love symbol.

Apple: Just as in many other cultures, the Celts considered apples and the apple tree to be love symbols. To ensure fertility, the bedrooms of newly married couples were decorated with apple blossoms and apple tree branches. Apple wood was often burned during Celtic fertility rituals. The fruit itself represented love in all its stages, from passion to companionship.

Jewelry: Known as outstanding metalsmiths, the Celts fashioned intricate jewelry that symbolized love. Rings, brooches, bracelets and necklaces were all exchanged between lovers and adorned with stylized knot designs, as well as animal and tree motifs. Rings were worn on the left hand, thought to be closer to the heart, while brooches were worn directly over the heart.

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