Thursday, 14 July 2011

Dotty About...Pagan Traditions Vs Thoroughly Modern Marriages

We have just had an enquiry for a "Handfasting" wedding. Not being Pagan myself, I have to admit that I had to google this (other search engines are available!!), only to find out that this is (of couse) where the term "Tying the Knot" comes from.

It turns out (via Wikipedia) that "The term is derived from the verb to handfast, used in Middle to Early Modern English for the making of a contract of marriage.[1] The term is originally from Old Norse hand-festa "to strike a bargain by joining hands."[1]. Or a translation from German,"Hände fest halten" that is to hold hands firmly and fixedly."

However, this isn't what has really amused me. As you read further down this particular Wikipedia entry, it references a tradition on the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Hebrides where there are "records of a 'Handfast" or "left-handed" marriage taking place as recently as the late 1600s [2] where the Gaelic scholar, Martin Martin, notes "It was an ancient custom in the Isles that a man take a maid to his wife and keep her for the space of a year without marrying her; and if she pleased him all the while, he married her at the end of the year and legitimatised her children; but if he did not love her, he returned her to her parents.""

Other than laughing out loud at this, it also made me think how very modern of them in some ways (obviously ignoring the fact that women's lib hadn't quite hit the Hebrides at this point).

It turns out from the dedicated website;, that Handfasting can be one of two things:

1) A wedding
2) A betrothal which must be for a year and a day.

In either case, and it symbolises the couple's desire to be bound together.

As an alternative wedding to the religious church weddings or straight forward civil ceremonies, with both romantic and historical values, I think it's a lovely ceremony.

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