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Is handfasting Celtic or Pagan?

Handfasting is an ancient tradition that has been present in various cultures all over the world for thousands of years. The practice of tying the hands together as a symbol of unity and commitment can be traced back to ancient Greece, Rome, and China, among other countries. However, when people think of handfasting today, they often associate it with Celtic or Pagan weddings. In this blog post, we’ll dive deeper into the history and cultural significance of handfasting and explore whether it is truly a Celtic or Pagan tradition.

The Origins of Handfasting

As mentioned above, handfasting has been present in many cultures throughout history. In ancient Greece, it was a common practice for couples to join hands during the wedding ceremony. The Romans did something similar during their nuptials but used a leather thong instead of joining hands. In China, a red silk cord was used to tie the couple’s hands together during the ceremony.

So, where does the Celtic or Pagan connection come into play? The Celts were known to be a spiritual and religious people who held great importance on the natural world. They believed in the interconnectedness of all things and honored the cycles of nature. Handfasting was a Celtic custom that was used to symbolize the joining of two people and their families. It was often considered a trial marriage that lasted for a year and a day, after which the couple could choose to either renew their vows or go their separate ways.

When Christianity became the dominant religion in Celtic regions, handfasting began to be replaced by church weddings. However, in modern times, many people interested in Pagan or Wiccan traditions have been drawn to handfasting as a way to honor their ancestors and connect with history.

Handfasting in Modern Times

In recent years, handfasting has become increasingly popular as an alternative to traditional marriage ceremonies. It has even gained recognition in some places as an official form of marriage. For example, in Scotland, couples can choose to have a legal handfasting ceremony if they so desire.

So, is handfasting truly a Celtic or Pagan tradition? The answer is both yes and no. While handfasting has roots in various cultures from around the world, it has become particularly associated with the Celtic peoples and their spiritual beliefs. And while it is often used in modern Wiccan and Pagan ceremonies, handfasting can also be incorporated into non-religious weddings as a way to honor heritage and symbolize unity.


Handfasting is a beautiful and meaningful tradition that has been carried down through the ages. While its origins may be difficult to pinpoint to a single culture or religion, it is clear that the practice of joining two hearts and hands together is a powerful symbol of love and commitment. Whether you choose to incorporate handfasting into your wedding ceremony as a way to connect with your heritage or to honor the natural cycles of the world, it is a beautiful tradition that can add depth and meaning to any wedding celebration.


Can Christians do handfasting?

Handfasting is a term used to describe a ceremony in which two people declare their commitment to each other. Historically, it was a Pagan ritual practiced in the British Isles and is commonly associated with Wicca and other neo-Pagan religions. In recent years, however, handfasting has become more popular and is often seen in secular, spiritual, and even some Christian ceremonies. This has led many Christians to ask the question, “Can Christians do handfasting?”

The answer to this question is not straightforward. Some Christians may feel that handfasting goes against their beliefs and is therefore not appropriate. Others, however, may see handfasting as a way to celebrate their love and commitment to each other in a manner that is meaningful to them.

For Christians who choose to incorporate handfasting into their ceremony, there are many ways to do so. Some may choose to modify the traditional handfasting ceremony to incorporate Christian elements such as prayer, the exchange of rings, or readings from the Bible. Others may prefer to create an entirely new ceremony that incorporates elements of both handfasting and Christian traditions.

It is important to note that there is no one “right” way to do handfasting as a Christian. The most important thing is that the couple makes a sincere commitment to each other and to God. If a couple feels that handfasting is an appropriate way to express their love and devotion to each other, then they should feel free to include it in their ceremony.

Whether or not Christians can do handfasting is a matter of personal belief and preference. Some Christians may see it as a way to celebrate their commitment to each other, while others may feel that it goes against their religious beliefs. The important thing is for couples to make a decision that feels right for them and to honor their commitment to each other and to God in a way that is meaningful and true to their values.

What is handfasting instead of marriage?

Handfasting is a practice that dates back to ancient times, where couples would make a commitment to live together for a set period of time, typically a year and a day. It is said to have originated in Celtic and Norse cultures and was later adopted by other cultures across Europe.

In England, handfasting was commonly used as a form of engagement to be married, where a ceremony was held to mark the occasion of the contract. The term “handfasting” was derived from the Old Norse word “handfesta”, which means to strike a bargain by shaking hands. During the ceremony, the couple would hold hands while their hands were bound together with a ribbon or cord, symbolizing their commitment to each other.

This ceremony was usually held about a month prior to the actual church wedding, in which the marrying couple formally declared that each accepted the other as spouse. In some cases, handfasting was used as a substitute for a legal marriage, primarily for couples who could not afford the cost of a church wedding or who did not want to marry in a church. Handfasting was also used as a way to test the relationship before committing to a lifetime together.

Today, there has been a resurgence of interest in handfasting as a spiritual or alternative wedding ceremony. It is often celebrated in nature and includes personalized vows and symbolism that reflects the couple’s beliefs and values. While it is not recognized as a legal form of marriage in most places, it remains a meaningful way for couples to commit to each other and celebrate their love.