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Meanings of Celtic Symbols

Do you want to know the meanings of Celtic symbols? There are many of them, including the Claddagh, luckenbooth, mistletoe, shamrock, Triquetra, and the Welsh love spoon. Others symbols include various crosses and knots. Learning about the meanings of Celtic symbols will give you a good overview of all Celtic symbols.

Meanings of Celtic Symbols

The Claddagh is a ring with a heart surrounded by two hands that has a crown above it. The heart symbolizes love, the hands denote friendship, and the crown represents loyalty. It was fashioned by a man who was kidnapped by pirates before his wedding. He was sold into slavery and, after many years, returned to his home to find his love still waiting for him. They were married and lived in the village of Claddagh, hence the name. It is sometimes used as a wedding ring with the heart pointing inwards.

A luckenbooth is a brooch that is given at a wedding or engagement. It was named after the small booths that sold them that had to be locked at night. Usually, these brooches were in the shape of a heart with a crown, much like the Claddagh. Sometimes they have phrases of love or several hearts. They were considered lucky charms to protect the wearer, to lessen the pain of childbirth, and to make sure that breast milk flowed easily. It was often pinned to a baby's clothes to prevent her from being stolen by fairies. Today, these can be found with two hearts and a crown, sometimes with an inlaid jewel.

Mistletoe is considered the sacred plant of the sun and is used for healing and protection. Ancient peoples believed trees were also sacred and, since the mistletoe that grew in them had no roots, they thought it was a magical plant. It was also believed that if it was hung in a house, it would keep the love in the household. At regular intervals, it was replaced, leading to the tradition of kissing under it.

The shamrock, also called trefoil or cloverleaf, is native to Ireland and symbolizes three parts of something, like the three stages of man or the earth, sea, and sky. It is used as a lucky charm to protect against evil. St. Patrick used it to help explain the Holy Trinity.

The Triquetra also symbolizes sets of three, like earth, sea, and sky, or mind, body, and soul. More recently, it is used to represent the Holy Trinity, especially when fashioned into a knot, and is often shown with three fish.

The Welsh love spoon originated as a gift to a woman from a suitor. It showed that the man could provide for her and would sometimes have carvings of bells, hearts, a cross, or a lock to show security. Sailors would also carve a spoon to give to their love when they returned from sea, many of which included carvings of anchors.


Bride's Cross: This was made of straw and was woven for Candlemas, in honor of Saint Bridget. Candlemas is celebrated on the second of February although many believe that there was no real St. Bridget. Instead, it was a cover so people could worship the Celtic goddess with that name.

Celtic Cross: This is a cross with a circle around it. The circle represents the sun god Taranis and the cross represents Christianity. The circle can be small or extend out to the ends of the vertical arms. Sometimes it has Celtic symbols engraved on it or jewels.

Solar Cross: This is a cross that is inside a circle. It is also called the Wheel of Taranis or Odin's Cross. This symbol has been around since ancient times and is found all over the world. The four arms of the cross represent the four solstices although sometimes there are eight arms to include the equinoxes.

Celtic Knots

To finish learning about the meanings of Celtic symbols, you should also look at knots. Celtic knots always join the loose ends together to make a continuous line that symbolizes eternity, everlasting love, or the circle of life. The intertwining of the string shows union between lovers or God and man, or the intricacies of nature. If a knot has two parts it can show lovers while three parts show sets of three things, like body, mind, and soul; earth, wind, and water; or the Trinity.

The sailor's knot is also called the lover's knot because it combines two ropes. Serch Bythol is a combination of two three-cornered knots. Each knot shows a person's mind, body, and spirit and combining them in the center circle shows eternal love. The Trinity knot symbolizes the Trinity and is also called the Triquetra.