When two people join their lives in marriage or committed partnership, they are rarely the only ones involved. A wedding, anniversary or other celebration of a relationship is also usually the joyful joining of two families. The two people at the heart of the celebration each have their own personal history and identity, and it is the joining of these two paths that we honor. This is why double coats of arms are such popular and well received Irish gifts for weddings. They are a beautiful symbol of both partners’ history and heritage coming together.
Each family’s coat of arms is composed of various symbols in specific colors to represent the family’s heritage. But what do all of those symbols and colors mean? Each one does have a meaning, and what they say together can shed some light on the family’s deepest and most ancient roots.
Colors: No color has just one exclusive meaning, but usually the various meanings associated
with a particular color are related. For example, white and silver can symbolize peace, purity or
honesty. Gold, not surprisingly, is associated with wealth as well as generosity and compassion.
Purple is the color of royalty and justice. Red is linked with battle and warfare, specifically with
bravery, strength, victory and martyrdom. Orange is almost always used to symbolize ambition.
Blue alludes to loyalty and strength. Green is the color of healthy plants and in heraldry it
represents health, hope and joyful love. The color black represents grief throughout the Western
world, and it family coats of arms it usually has the same meaning, but it can also symbolize
Animals: The boar appears throughout Irish mythology and legend as a symbol. In heraldry, a
boar refers to fierceness in battle while a boar’s head alone represents hospitality. The lion is
wellknown heraldic symbol for courage and leadership. Ireland has plenty of snakes in family
coats of arms before and after St. Patrick, and they represent wisdom. One of the oldest symbols
in Irish heraldry is the stag (or deer, or buck), which indicates the family was known for being
harmonious and peaceloving, and / or beautiful.
Other: Some of the other things pictured on heraldic coats of arms have obvious meanings, such
as a crown for royalty or sovereignty and a weapon to refer to victory or skill in battle. Ships are
associated with travel by sea. Others, however, don’t have the most obvious meaning. A heart
usually symbolizes honesty and sincerity rather than love or romance. While in much of Europe,
a red hand refers to the title of baron, in Ireland it refers to the province of Ulster.
Wall plaques, prints and other items with family coats of arms are not exclusively Irish gifts.
Heraldry was in use throughout Europe, so heraldic wedding gifts can be beautiful for many
couples even if both partners do not share Irish heritage. When you order heraldic gifts, it is
helpful to provide as much information as possible about the family such as which county or
province they came from. Some family names have different coats of arms for different branches
of the family.