A vague nod to a bride from an Irish folktale

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "A vague nod to a bride from an Irish folktale" means in the following sentences:

It [the gold crown] ’s the one capricious element of my outfit, the one concession to a romantic fantasy. I had it made by a hat-maker’s in London. I didn’t want to go for a full flower crown, because that would be a bit hippy-child, but I felt this would be a stylish solution. A vague nod to a bride from an Irish folktale, say.

- Lucy Foley, The Guest List, Chapter 27

This is a thriller novel published in 2020 in the United Kingdom. One hundred and fifty guests gathered at some remote and deserted fictional islet called Inis an Amplóra off the coast of the island of Ireland to celebrate the wedding between Jules (a self-made woman running an online magazine called The Download) and Will (a celebrity appearing in a TV show program called Survive the Night). On the morning of the wedding day, Jules puts the gold crown on her head, thinking the crown is "A vague nod to a bride from an Irish folktale."

In this part, I am wondering what she means by "A vague nod to a bride from an Irish folktale".

(1) By "a vague nod," would that mean that Jules vaguely respects the bride from an Irish folktale...?

(2) As for "a bride from an Irish folktale," unfortunately, I am not familiar with Irish wedding tradition, so I googled "bride, flower crown, Irish folktale" but only found that it was traditional for a bride to wear a flower crown in her wedding, and I found no search result as to the Irish folktale. So I just wanted to ask you whether there is some saying about the bride wearing a flower crown in the Irish folktale.
Or, perhaps, does "folktale" here just mean like a "common saying among people," not necessarily meaning some fantastic stories (featuring princesses, dragons, princes and so on)...?

I would very much appreciate your help. :)
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Perhaps somebody will know about a crown in an Irish folktale. I'm just saying that your guess is better than mine. However, a folktale is a story, not a saying.
    'A vague nod to ...' means 'a vague reference to ... '. She has no specific tale in mind.
     

    cidertree

    Senior Member
    Hiberno-English
    I'm at a loss - I didn't even know the crown of flowers was traditional. :confused:

    Jules does seem to be aware of the tradition, and, to avoid looking like a "hippy-child", has chosen gold rather than flowers for her crown.
     
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    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    A crown of flowers has been traditional for brides and for queens for many centuries. Of course the queen's flowers will be made of gold and jewels, while the country maid's will be freshly-picked on the way to church.

    There's not much evidence of real Gaelic crowns, but the main thing is what it looks like to a modern person (The Guest List was published barely a year ago), so I'd assume a cross between Art Nouveau and Lord of the Rings.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear Hermione Golightly, cidertree and Keith Bradford,

    Thank you very much for the explanations.
    So she is talking about a story in an Irish folktale, rather than a common saying around people!
    Perhaps somebody will know about a crown in an Irish folktale. I'm just saying that your guess is better than mine. However, a folktale is a story, not a saying.
    I googled and googled but couldn't find any story related to a flower crown in an Irish folktale... :( What a pity.
    Then, considering that the flower crown was traditional in an Irish wedding, she might be saying that she did homage to a bride who is likely to appear in an Irish folktale... (If the flower crown was traditional, any bride in the Irish folktale would have worn the crown... but that seems like a very weak ground. :D)
     

    cidertree

    Senior Member
    Hiberno-English
    Her knowledge of Irish folktales may not be that profound: It may even be based on some cinematic 'version' of Ireland.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear cidertree,

    Thank you very much for the explanation.
    I really agree that it is possible that the narrator might not have implied such profound knowledge about Irish folktales and tradition! Probably she might have her own image regarding Irish brides she has seen in films and was now thinking of them... And that cinematic versions could have represented Irish folktales in her mind.

    Unfortunately, however, I haven't been able to encounter Irish brides in movies, so the image of Irish brides does not automatically come to my mind as it has to the narrator's mind... :(
    Instead, I found some article explaining Irish wedding traditions.

    13 Charming Irish Wedding Traditions For Luck and Love - Wedded Wonderland

    I learned that there are many traditions including wearing wildflowers in braided hair, wearing a blue wedding dress and so on...
    So probably, her own image of "a bride from an Irish folktale" would have been a bride in some unspecific Irish legend (because it is a "vague nod," she might not have any specific tale in her mind) who follows Irish wedding traditions, perhaps wearing wildflowers in her hair and wearing a blue wedding gown.

    So she might have a general idea as to how an Irish traditional bride in Irish legends would look like.

    I sincerely appreciate your help. :)
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear PaulQ,

    Thank you very much for the explanation.
    So Jules here is acknowledging that her crown was inspired by a bride in an Irish folktale!
    I sincerely appreciate your help. :)
     

    cidertree

    Senior Member
    Hiberno-English
    On rereading your OP, with a little more care, I don't think it's that clear. The "say" would be read as "for example". - It sounds as if the 'bride in the folktale' story is something that occurred to Jules to explain the gold crown, if any comments were made.
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    So Jules here is acknowledging that her crown was inspired by a bride in an Irish folktale!
    In broad terms, "Yes" but I agree with cidertree. The "say" is, indeed "for example". Perhaps it could be paraphrased as "As if it, for example, were acknowledging the style of a bride from an Irish folktale."

    "Nod to X" is usually used to refer to the acknowledgement of a past inspiration, but, here, it seems to be something that occurs to Jules after it has been created, i.e. a reference to X.
     
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    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear cidertree and PaulQ,

    Thank you very much for the explanations.
    Then Jules is vaguely referring to the style of a bride in an Irish folktale to explain why she chose the golden crown!
    So she is just adding that the gold crown was a reference to the style of a bride in an unspecific Irish folktale as an afterthought, as an instance.
    I sincerely appreciate your help. :)
     
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