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Encyclopedia > Handfasting

Handfasting is an ancient Celtic wedding ritual in which the bride's and groom's hands are tied together —hence the phrase "tying the knot". It was a part of the normal marriage ceremony in the time of the Roman Empire. In the 16th century, the English cleric Myles Coverdale wrote in The Christen State of Matrymonye, that in that day, handfasting was still in use in some places, but was then separate from the Christian wedding rite performed in a church several weeks after the consummation of the marriage, which had already begun with the handfasting ritual. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, handfasting was then sometimes treated as a probationary form of marriage. See Historical Handfasting for an introduction to the historical roots of handfasting. A Celtic cross. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... The Roman Empire was a phase of the ancient Roman civilization characterized by an autocratic form of government. ... (15th century - 16th century - 17th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 16th century was that century which lasted from 1501 to 1600. ... Myles Coverdale (also Miles Coverdale) (c1488 - January 20, 1568) was a 16th-century Bible translator who produced the first complete printed translation of the Bible into English. ... The Oxford English Dictionary print set The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is a dictionary published by the Oxford University Press (OUP). ...


One unique tale of a handfasting tradition was that of the Telltown marriages. These took place once per year, on the Sabbat Lughnasadh, and all unmarried people would get together and be married, usually with no knowledge of to whom they were being married until that day. The marriage would last until the next Lughnasadh. At that time, they were free to leave the union if they desired. In the Wiccan form of neopaganism, a Sabbat is one of the eight major seasonal festivals which make up the Wheel of the Year. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...


These however were not the common practices of handfasting. Couples would choose whom they wanted to marry as in modern-day practice, and have a handfasting with loose wraps and knots to signify that it was only for a year and a day. During this time, the couple would live together as a married couple. After the year and day were over, the couple would then choose to either part ways or make it permanent. If they choose to make it permanent, they would then once again have a ceremony similar to the first with the exception of the wraps and knots being done tight. These ceremonies generally were held on Beltane. Beltane was chosen out of the other Sabbats because it mirrored the God and Goddess's union. This article is about the Gaelic holiday. ...

Contents


Modern usage

In the present day, many Pagans (especially Wiccans) practice this ritual. It symbolizes the beginning of a marriage, lasting a year and a day , a lifetime, or for all eternity; if the proper measures are taken, it can also be a legal marriage ceremony. Handfastings can be performed for heterosexual or homosexual couples (see also same-sex marriage), as well as for larger groups in the case of polyamorous relationships. Pagan may refer to: A believer in Paganism or Neopaganism Bagan, a city in Myanmar also known as Pagan Pagan (album), the 6th album by Celtic metal band Cruachan Pagan Island, of the Northern Mariana Islands Pagan Lorn, a metal band from Luxembourg, Europe (1994-1998) Pagans Mind, is... The pentagram within a circle is a symbol of faith used by many Wiccans. ... Heterosexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by esthetic attraction, romantic love or sexual desire exclusively for members of the opposite sex or gender, contrasted with homosexuality and distinguished from bisexuality and asexuality. ... The word homosexuality has acquired multiple meanings over time. ... World homosexuality laws Same-sex marriage is the union of two people who are of the same gender. ... Start of polyamory contingent at San Francisco Pride 2004. ...

As with many Neopagan rituals, contemporary ceremonies follow the basic tenet of historical practice but are reconstructed and so normally written to represent the wishes of the individuals rather than following a known historical form. Download high resolution version (530x700, 179 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Neopaganism or Neo-Paganism [1] is any of a heterogeneous group of new religious movements, particularly those influenced by ancient, primarily pre-Christian and sometimes pre-Judaic religions. ...


There is no universal procedure for the ceremony, and the elements included are generally up to the couple being handfasted. The couple can conduct the ceremony themselves or may have an official perform the ceremony. Handfasting usually takes place outside and may occasionally be performed skyclad (nude). In Wicca, the couple often jumps over a broom or, more commonly, a small bonfire to symbolize entering matrimony. Today, some couples opt for a handfasting ceremony in place of, or incorporated into, their wedding. In Wicca, skyclad properly means naked outdoors, though it is frequently used to mean nudity anywhere. ...


A corresponding divorce ceremony called a handparting is sometimes practiced. Handpartings are not always performed for the same reasons as mainstream divorce. One unique feature of handfasting as opposed to traditional marriage is that the couple may choose the length of time for which the marriage lasts: either for a year and a day, a lifetime, or for all eternity. In a Wiccan handparting, the couple often jumps backwards over the broom before parting hands. Divorce or dissolution of marriage is the ending of a marriage before the death of either spouse, which can be contrasted with an annulment, which is a declaration that a marriage is void, though the effects of marriage may be recognized in such unions, such as spousal support, child custody... This refers to the act performed on a special occasion. ...

An example of a handfasting knot tied by each wedding guest
An example of a handfasting knot tied by each wedding guest

Image File history File linksMetadata HandFastingKnot-1. ...

Rings and handfastings

As with traditional marriages, couples often exchange rings during handfastings, symbolizing the couple's desire to be faithful to each other and to share the rest of their lives together. Many pagan couples choose rings with Celtic designs to resonate with the origins of handfastings, while others choose traditional wedding rings.


Tying the knot

The term "tying the knot", which is still used widely today, originates with the practice of handfasting. During the ceremony, the couple's hands are tied together with a red cord or ribbon, symbolizing the desire, passion and vitality of the love the couple have for each other. The cord is often kept by the couple as a reminder of their vows. In a handparting, the cord is tied at the beginning of the ceremony and cut at the end. Other traditions involve each wedding guest tying a ribbon around the couple's hands to symbolize the community's support and recognition of their bond.


Under the ancient Celtic tradition, Handfasting is eternal, meaning that when one passes on to Summerland, the surviving mate does not handfast with another, rather waits until they pass on and locate their soulmate through reincarnation.


External links

  • What is Handfasting & an Example Ceremony from Avalonia
  • Historical Handfasting

  Results from FactBites:
 
Handfasting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (757 words)
Handfasting is an ancient Celtic wedding ritual in which the bride's and groom's hands are tied together —hence the phrase "tying the knot".
Handfastings can be performed for heterosexual or homosexual couples (see also same-sex marriage), as well as for larger groups in the case of polyamorous relationships.
One unique feature of handfasting as opposed to traditional marriage is that the couple may choose the length of time for which the marriage lasts: either for a year and a day, a lifetime, or for all eternity.
Handfasting Info - Christian Perspectives on Handfasting (707 words)
Handfasting at one time was the only way that couples could be engaged and/or get married because the church let the civil government of the period take care of these matters.
The Handfasting gesture seems to have been derived from one of the ancient Indo-European images of male-female conjunction, the infinity sign, whose twin circles represented the sun (female) and the moon (male) or in some of the southern Mediterranean traditions it was sun (male) and moon (female).
Two-handed Handfasting still constituted a fully legal marriage throughout Europe whether the blessing of the church was sought or not.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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