Putting a Child of Prague statue in the garden for good weather at weddings


Informant is 56-year old IT technician living in Dublin, Ireland. This piece of folklore has to do with the Child of Prague statues that are so popular in Ireland. The statue is usually less than a foot high and features Jesus Christ dressed as a king, similar to the one indicated above, but with occasional variations in the color of the cloak according to the time of the year. The statue is a replica of the original wax-wooden statue housed in the Disacled Carmelite Church of Our Lady in Malá Strana, Prague. It was said to have belonged to Saint Teresa of Avila, and is now located to the right of the altar, halfway up the Church. This is a tradition the informant is familiar with from his childhood, and is a fond memory. He is signified in this conversation by the initials D.O.


Main Piece:

D.O.: Mam would always do this whenever one of my sisters was getting married. You place the Child of Prague statue in the front garden of the bride’s house in a bush or under a hedge – basically somewhere it’s not going to get knocked over. You could even bury it in the ground – that’d happen a lot in the winter. It’s supposed to bring good weather the day of a wedding. Burying it in the winter was a kind of evasive manoeuvre, as if hiding it better would make the weather even better, or rather combat the winter.


A: And do you think it worked?


D.O.: Maybe half of the time, but sure half of the time it probably wasn’t going to rain anyways. People are more likely to have weddings in the summer, so the weather was going to be fine enough in the first place. There was another superstition actually, about if the statue was missing a head. Some people would say that the statue was luckier, because if it was missing a head that meant that it had been around for a long time and it worked better – tried and tested, like – but some people said it was an omen that the statue was cursed or had been knocked over or broken. Ours had a head but the neighbors swore by the headless statue.


A: And would you still do that today?


D.O.: I probably would for tradition’s sake if it was someone important to me getting married. I don’t think it’s as prevalent today as it was when I was younger. I suppose Ireland is a less Catholic country now than the one I grew up in.


Performance context: I interviewed this informant over the phone considering that I am in California and he in Dublin. He mentioned that there was a family wedding coming up and that, seeing as it’s winter, he joked about putting out a Child of Prague. My resulting questioning forms the rest of this analysis.


My thoughts: This is probably one of the more bizarre folk beliefs I have heard from Ireland. I don’t quite understand the connection between this statue and the weather, nor where the belief came from. The idea of hiding or burying the statue seems to be implicit to the success of its weather-controlling powers, which again seems to have no obvious links. The combination of two-fold superstition with not only the weather-controlling aspect of the statue, but the idea that it is ‘luckier’ with its’ head broken off, combines Christian beliefs with superstitions that would perhaps have more to do with Ancient Greco-Roman cult statues than Christianity in a confusing mix. Perhaps this is why Ireland is such an odd and interesting country to examine folklore from – although it seems a canonical and thoroughly Catholicized state, in isolation very unique folk beliefs to do with traditional religion, preexisting culture and superstition have been created in an eccentric and confusing mix.