For the Irish, Celtic symbols hold deep significance, so it's only natural that they incorporate these meaningful designs into their daily lives. With no beginning and no end, Celtic loops, knots and other patterns are the perfect symbol of unity and eternity, much like the traditional wedding ring is for many cultures. Though most Irish people choose to wear traditional rings, the Celtic wedding tattoo is another way of cementing a couple's union, expressing heritage and displaying some creativity.
The Celtic design, which most often appears on crosses, is very important to the Irish culture and their Catholic religion. In lieu of wearing a wedding ring or Claddagh ring that may be taken off or lost, some choose to have a Celtic design tattooed onto their wedding ring finger. The tattoo not only signifies a wedding ring, but also the love and commitment the couple share since the tattoo is permanent. This design can stand alone as a wedding band or can be paired with an actual wedding or Claddagh ring.
A Celtic wedding ring tattoo can be chosen from a variety of patterns and designs. There is the traditional wedding band, which looks like a braided rope. There is the Claddagh band, which resembles a Claddagh ring. And there is the traditional Irish engagement ring and the unity band, which entangles two ropes within a larger Celtic pattern. These are only some of the popular Celtic tattoo designs that the Irish typically display on their wedding fingers.
Celtic designs date back to around 800 A.D., when Irish monks produced intricate, repetitious designs that were ultimately placed in the Book of Kells, a famous Irish manuscript. Celtic tattoos have been around for centuries and were typically used to designate someone's lineage. The Celtic wedding tattoo is a more recent development in Irish culture, brought about after wedding and Claddagh rings gained popularity. Though you don't see many Celtic wedding tattoos in the United States, some Americans do have the name of their husband, wife or partner tattooed on their wedding ring finger.
There are many different Celtic patterns for a couple to choose from for their wedding ring tattoo. They can pick an established design that symbolizes something like bravery or trust or intelligence, or they can choose to create their own design based on the Celtic cross or an original pattern of their own. Keep in mind that a Celtic wedding ring tattoo will always feature a complex design that features intricate knots, mazes, ropework or spirals. Some are inked in only black and gray, while others incorporate green (which is naturally symbolic to Ireland) or other bright colors. The width of the tattoo can vary based on the Celtic design, but it is typically as wide as a traditional wedding band would be.
Some women choose to wear both a traditional wedding ring or Claddagh ring and get their finger tattooed. This combination can make it appear as if she is wearing a wedding ring and an engagement ring, though the color of the tattoo and the gold or silver of the jewelry may not necessarily complement each other well. People who are in professions where rings aren't practical may opt for the Celtic ring tattoo, such as construction workers, doctors and athletes, as well as anyone who can't or doesn't like to wear jewelry.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images