Handfasting Ceremony - an ancient Celtic tradition
History of Handfasting
The handfasting ceremony has its roots in ancient Celtic tradition because it dates as far back as 7000 B.C.
Way back in the day in ancient Ireland when two people chose to be married basically they were brought together to have a braided cord or ribbon tied around their hands. This was done in the presence of a priest. It merely acknowledged the pair’s engagement, which typically ran the length of a year and a day.
Handfasting was a a declaration in public of intent to marry. It was a sign to potential suitors that the woman was intended to her betrothed and not to be harassed.
After the year and a day was up, the couple returned and either declared their intent to be married or that it wasn’t a match and swiped left (tinder style)! Then they both could move on and were free to choose another potential suitor.
It was first conducted as an engagement ceremony. Handfasting was seen as a temporary binding for one year and a day. After that time if the couple wished to stay together, the handfasting was repeated a second time as a marriage ceremony. The couple were then married for seven years.
After this time, if the couple wished to remain together the handfasting was repeated for another seven years or as a permanent marriage. This is where we get the term “seven year itch”.
Traditionally the ceremony was conducted according to the local traditions. In more recent times, a handfasting ceremony is part of a traditional wedding ceremony, and is written to suit the requirements of the couple.
Honestly, there are unlimited variations in the ceremony wording, from the short, modern format lasting about 3-4 minutes, to a longer traditional format lasting anything from 10 minutes or longer.
Who Should tie the knot?
Typically as the Celebrant I can do it, but we can spice it up too!
I have done it where different members of the families pick a different coloured ribbon and they tie it.
Each colour has a symbolic meaning:
Red: Representing Passion strength, lust, fertility
Orange: Representing encouragement, attraction, kindness
Yellow: Representing charm, confidence, joy balance
Green: Representing finance, fertility, charity, prosperity, health
Blue: Representing tranquillity, patience, devotion sincerity
Purple: Representing power, piety, sanctity, sentimentality
Pink: Representing unity, honour, romance, happiness
Handfasting is a beautiful way to very visibly acknowledge your connection to each other.It adds a truly intimate element into your wedding day. Whilst acknowledging an ancient tradition it has been performed by couples for centuries indeed millennia. Check out my blog for some useful articles.
Whether it is Celtic, Wiccan, pagan or whatever, it is a lovely element to any ceremony. We can do it almost anywhere but it is a lovely end point to any wedding...but ultimately you decide....
Your Handfasting Questions Answered...
How many pieces are needed?
You can use as many pieces as you like, you can braid the pieces together, which symbolises your lives joining together.
How long should the material be?
The cord or ribbons should be about a metre in length, which will allow for it to be wrapped around your hands a couple of times.
What colour should the material be?
Honestly that’s up to you. You decide. You can opt for colours that match the theme of your wedding or maybe colours that are special to both of you. Online some merchants sell some lovely Celtic ones but some ribbon from the drapery shop is ok too…..it is the intention that matters!
How long should we remain bound?
We could let you tied together until midnight! But for most it is a minute or two. Some couples keep the cord or ribbon as keepsake. Hopefully we will raise your hands up to great cheers!
Handfasting cord available check out:
The handfasting cord in main picture is one similar to one I got from Niamh on Etsy.com. her website is www.embracingcords.com
Find out more about weddings
If you are looking for a legal wedding in Cork or a vow renewal please contact me. I am an Interfaith Celebrant and legal solemnisor. I specialise in Handfasting ceremonies and know some great wedding venues in Cork.
So if you are looking for the best wedding celebrant in Cork give me a shout. I promise your Wedding will be heartfelt, fun and everything you wanted.Check out my blog for some useful articles.
Have a search around the website. There is information on handfasting, unity candle ceremony, legal necessities for getting married and much much more. Enjoy the planning. Your big day will be here before you know it!