Traditional Wedding Coins
This old tradition, which seems to have its origins from the Romanization of Western Europe and Brehon Law.
The groom presents his wife with a silver coin as a symbol of their coming together.
The gift symbolizes his willingness to provide, protect and care for her.
Since coins did not really enter Celtic cultures until the influence of the Romans became more predominant, there may well have been previous custom about which we cuttingly know little.
Quite apart from any dowry, the wedding coin became a token of domestic partnership.
In ancient Gaelic societies, marriages functioned on a business level, where both parties had duties and obligations to the other than under the marriage contract.
Celtic women were far more equal than their Roman counterparts.
In Ireland, where the custom of the wedding coin seems to have survived best, they had significant protections under Brehon Law which allowed them to own property and land.
By the time of conversion to Christianity, the Brehon Laws became more lax, especially after the adoption of Roman Religious rule after the Synod of Whitby in the 7th Century.
By the time of the great medieval organization of the church in the 14th century these laws were ignored in favour of church doctrine forcing the tradition of the wedding coin into he realm of folk tradition.
At that point, the gift took other forms besides a coin – jewellery or a jewellery box.
The wedding coin traditionally helped to signify the brides role as having parity between her and her husband.
His primary role was to rule outside the home, bringing in and protecting their prosperity.
Her role was to rule within the household, managing and utilising that prosperity as befit their station and wealth in society. She worked towards creating a future in the form of their children.
By this time only the well-off could afford such extravagances as the wedding coin, but it also seems that the spirit of the tradition remained up until present day.
The custom of the groom presenting his bride with a coin is said to date back to the time when the groom paid luck money to the family of the bride, in order to bring happiness and blessing upon them.
After the exchange of wedding rings the coin would be presented to the bride as a symbol of worldly goods.
There is a contemporary custom where the bride and groom exchange coins and it is said that if the coins clink as they are exchanged the couple will be blessed with children.
After the wedding the gift is often preserved as a family heirloom and is passed from mother to eldest son on his wedding day.
Today many couples depend on two incomes in order to manage their financial needs.
The words that accompany the giving and receiving of the coins can express the contemporary reality as well as communicate the sacrifice that each will make for each other.