What Is a Handfasting Ceremony or Ritual?

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According to historians, the Irish handfasting ceremony is where the phrase "tying the knot" first appeared. Find out more about the ritual by reading on.


What Is a Handfasting Ceremony or Ritual?

An officiant ties a couple's hands together with a handfasting ribbon during a handfasting ceremony to symbolize their commitment to one another. This ritual of unity is based on ancient Celtic tradition. Celtic handfasting is frequently incorporated into wedding vows by Wiccan and Pagan faiths, but in recent years, couples have started incorporating the tradition into other kinds of weddings. An engagement or vow renewal ceremony, as well as a wedding, may all include a handfasting unity ceremony.


Historical Overview of Handfasting Rituals

An engaged couple would observe their handfasting by tying a braided ribbon around their joined hands in front of a priest in pre-Christian Ireland and Scotland. This act was less expensive than exchanging rings and represented a trial marriage that lasted a year prior to the couple's wedding day. During that time, if the couple found they were not a good match, they would inform their priest and formally end their relationship.


An explanation of a handfasting cord

During the handfasting ceremony, a couple ties their hands together with a cord or ribbon. A long fabric piece or three pieces braided together can serve as the cord, which can also have flowers, trinkets, or charms woven into it or fastened to its ends. The used material ought to be long enough to wrap your hands around it multiple times. It might hold sentimental value for you and your partner, such as family heirlooms or other textiles with special significance.


Who conducts the ceremony of handfasting?

The handfasting ceremony is typically performed by the wedding officiant, but anyone, including family members, close friends, or any other loved one, may do it. Several wedding celebrants can be chosen to carry out the ritual as well.


How to Conduct a Handfasting Ritual or Ceremony

For a handfasting ceremony, you can choose to complete any or all of the following actions:

1. Explain the ritual. An explanation aids spectators in comprehending the significance of the handfasting tradition and its symbolism during your ceremony. In the ceremony script, mention a succinct description and background of the custom. You might want to include particulars that are significant to you two as a couple, like your desire to become one.

2. Connect hands. Then your officiant tells you to hold hands. You can clasp hands by placing them side by side, crossing one over the other, or grabbing your partner's right hand with your own (or you can choose to join left hands). Select the position that will make you both the most comfortable.

3. The vows are read aloud. While wrapping the handfasting cord or ribbon around your joined hands, the officiant reads the wedding vows (or other customary vows). While some participants prefer a straightforward hand encircling, others favor a more intricate infinity knot. In addition, you have the option of having a loved one wrap the cord while your officiant reads.

4. Finish the ritual. The completion of the handfasting ritual is announced by your officiant. You may keep your joined hands bound at this point or remove the ribbon to exchange additional vows or participate in the ring exchange.

5. Maintain your handfasting ribbon. Many couples keep their handfasting cords as heirlooms. You may decide to use it again years later to renew your vows.

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