Irish Baby Gifts
An old Irish blessing says "A newborn babe brings light to the cottage, warmth to the heart and joy to the soul, for wealth is family and family is wealth." It's here that the Corner Stork celebrates the Irish and their heritage with gifts that feature a bit o' the green on cherished keepsakes like bibles, a guardian angel, baptismal bib, and a feeding set. Bring the luck o' the Irish into baby's home with a gift that reminds everyone of long-honored Irish traditions.
Corner Story: Babies in The Irish Family
For as much of Irish life revolves around family and friends, it's no surprise the ancient Celtic culture of old Eire holds some of the most detailed and colorful maternity traditions. Children have been a boon to Irish families and villages for thousands of years - they were the very hope for the future during that people's often-troubled times. As one Irish childhood blessing explains, "A new born babe brings light to the cottage, warmth to the heart and joy to the soul, for wealth is family and family is wealth."
An Irish child's name carried special importance, as parents designated their children to honor their ancestors. For example, the first born boy of every family was traditionally named for his grandfather; the first born girl, her grandmother. Especially in close-knit communities and villages, this tradition kept family heritages alive, even while preserving Irish names and identity.
Prior to the baby's arrival, the expectant mother went through a variety of rituals and practices. A horseshoe, always a lucky totem in Irish life, was hung above the doorpost, to encourage good luck to enter the home. A prayer book was left under the mother's pillow, and a potato broken on the family hearthstone. In earlier Irish times, a pervading fear of the "good people," or faeries, compelled many Irish mothers into colorful practices, including:
- concealing an iron or cinder inside the baby's dress
- placing unsalted butter inside the baby's mouth
- tying a red ribbon around the baby's bed post.
Later, holy water was believed the most effective defense against evil spirits. The faeries, it was believed, longed to steal healthy babies and replace them with weak changelings. Holy water or any one of many complicated rituals - like seen above - would help prevent their kidnapping children.
Birth and dates and times were also important and complex. A child born after dark was thought able to communicate with the faerie folk and other spirits. Babies born on May Day are assumed to have good luck their entire lives. Any baby born on Sunday was thought to have bad luck; and a worm was sometimes crushed in the baby's hand to help alleviate his bad fortune. Sometimes after a baby's eyes were open, the mother would help it to stare into a candle, so the baby would be drawn to acts of good in life, instead of acts of darkness.
There is an old Irish prayer that reads:
"May you always walk in sunshine.
May you never want for more.
May Irish angels rest their wings
Right beside your door."