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What does handfasting symbolize?

The art of handfasting has been around for thousands of years and is still practiced today. This ancient tradition has been passed down through generations and continues to be an important part of many culturally significant ceremonies. In this article, we will explore the meaning behind handfasting and what makes it such an important ceremony.

The Origin of Handfasting

The origins of handfasting can be traced back to the ancient Celtic traditions of Northern Europe. In these communities, marriages were not necessarily seen as an end goal but rather as a bond between two people that could be dissolved if it no longer served both parties. Handfasting was a way of establishing an agreement or a contract between two people who were coming together to create something new. It was a way for a couple to informally pledge their commitment to each other without the need for an official wedding ceremony.

The term “handfasting” comes from the Old Norse word “handfesta” which means “to strike a bargain.” During the Middle Ages, handfasting became more formalized and was often used as a way to publicly declare a couple’s commitment to each other. It was not until the 16th century that the Christian church became involved in the practice and it began to take on a more religious tone.

The Meaning Behind Handfasting

At its core, handfasting symbolizes the joining of two people in a spiritual union. The tying of the cord or ribbon around the couple’s hands represents their two lives coming together as one. This act also symbolizes the couple’s commitment to each other and the promise to remain faithful and loyal to one another throughout their lives.

Different cords and ribbons can be used during a handfasting ceremony, each with its own unique meaning. For example, a red cord may symbolize passion and love, while a green cord may symbolize fertility and growth. Some couples even choose to use multiple colors or to braid the cords together to represent the intertwining of their lives.

The act of tying the knot can also be seen as a metaphor for the challenges and obstacles that the couple may face in their relationship. The knot is something that cannot be easily undone, just as the couple’s commitment to each other cannot be easily broken.

Types of Handfasting Ceremonies

While the basic idea behind handfasting remains the same, there are a variety of ways in which the ceremony can be performed. One of the most common forms is where the couple is standing facing each other with their hands clasped together while a third person ties the knot around their wrists. Other variations may include the couple tying the knot themselves, or the knot being tied around both the couple’s wrists and a branch or other object.

In some cultures, handfasting is included as part of a larger religious or spiritual ceremony. For example, Wiccans often include handfasting as part of their ritual of union. The ceremony is also common in Neo-Pagan communities, where it is often performed as part of a Wiccan or Celtic celebration.

In addition, handfasting can also be done outside of any religious or spiritual context. Some couples choose to perform the ceremony as a standalone event, either in addition to or instead of a more traditional wedding ceremony.

The Significance of Handfasting Today

While handfasting has been around for centuries, it is still a popular ceremony today. It is often seen as an alternative to a traditional wedding ceremony and can be a beautiful and meaningful way for a couple to pledge their commitment to each other.

In addition, handfasting can be a way for couples to honor their cultural traditions. For example, couples with Celtic heritage may choose to incorporate handfasting into their ceremony as a way to connect with their cultural roots.

Handfasting can also act as a symbolic representation of a deeper connection between the couple. By incorporating this ancient tradition into their ceremony, the couple can create a more meaningful bond that may last a lifetime.


Handfasting is an ancient tradition that has stood the test of time. It is a beautiful way for a couple to pledge their commitment to each other and can be a significant part of a larger religious or spiritual ceremony. Regardless of the specific type of handfasting, the symbolism remains the same: two individuals coming together to create a stronger, unified bond that will last a lifetime.


What is handfasting instead of marriage?

In modern times, handfasting has gained popularity as an alternative to traditional marriage. But what exactly is handfasting and how does it differ from traditional marriage?

Historically, handfasting was a term used in England to refer to the engagement period before marriage. It was a formal engagement ceremony where the couple declared their intent to marry in front of witnesses. This was usually held about a month before the church wedding to allow time for banns (public announcements of the upcoming marriage) to be made.

However, in Pagan and Wiccan traditions, handfasting has a different meaning. It is a marriage ceremony that symbolizes the joining of two individuals in a spiritual and emotional union. The couple’s hands are tied together with ribbons or cords, symbolizing the binding of their souls. This is where the term “tying the knot” comes from. It is a commitment ceremony that may or may not have legal significance depending on the jurisdiction.

Handfasting ceremonies can be tailored to the beliefs and values of the couple. Non-traditional vows, poetry, and music can be included. The couple may also choose to include cultural traditions and rituals that have personal meaning.

Some modern couples choose handfasting as an alternative to traditional marriage because it allows for greater flexibility and personalization of the ceremony. Handfasting ceremonies can be held indoors or outdoors, in any location that is meaningful to the couple. Additionally, handfasting can be performed by a spiritual leader, friend, or family member, rather than a licensed officiant.

Handfasting is a marriage ceremony that has different meanings depending on the cultural or historical context. It can be an alternative to traditional marriage that allows for greater personalization and flexibility in the ceremony.

Can Christians do handfasting?

Handfasting rituals have long been associated with Pagan ceremonies, but in recent years they have become more common in secular, spiritual, and even some Christian ceremonies. This leads to the question: Can Christians participate in handfasting ceremonies or is it purely a Pagan practice?

The answer to this question is not a straightforward one. On the one hand, handfasting has its roots in ancient Pagan traditions that date back to pre-Christian times. It was a way for couples to commit to each other for a set amount of time, often a year and a day, before deciding whether or not to make their union permanent. In many Pagan traditions, it is still a sacred rite that is performed as part of a marriage ceremony.

On the other hand, modern handfasting ceremonies are not necessarily tied to any particular religion or belief system. They are often seen as a way for couples to declare their commitment to each other in a more personal and meaningful way than traditional wedding vows allow. For this reason, it is not unusual to see handfasting ceremonies performed by people of all faiths, including Christians.

Some Christian churches have even incorporated elements of handfasting into their wedding ceremonies. For example, one popular tradition is to bind the couple’s hands together with ribbons or cords while they exchange their vows. This symbolizes the couple’s union and commitment to one another and can be seen as a spiritual expression of love and devotion.

However, it is worth noting that some Christians may view handfasting as incompatible with their faith. This is because handfasting is still often associated with Paganism and other non-Christian belief systems. Some Christians may feel that participating in a handfasting ceremony would be a violation of their religious beliefs.

Whether or not Christians can participate in handfasting ceremonies is a matter of personal belief and interpretation. While the practice does have Pagan roots, modern handfasting ceremonies are not inherently tied to any particular religion or belief system. As such, it is up to each individual Christian to decide whether or not they feel comfortable incorporating handfasting into their wedding ceremony.

What does the infinity knot mean in handfasting?

Handfasting is an old Celtic tradition that represents the commitment of a couple to each other, and it has been used as a symbolic ceremony in modern weddings. During a handfasting ceremony, couples exchange vows and use a cord to seal their commitment to each other. The cord is often referred to as the handfasting cord or the binding cord.

The handfasting cord is typically made of different materials or colors, representing different meanings such as spirituality, cultural heritage, and personal preferences. One of the most popular handfasting cord designs is the infinity knot handfasting cord. The infinity knot, also known as the Celtic love knot or eternity knot, symbolizes the infinite love and devotion a couple shares for one another.

The infinity knot is a simple yet elegant symbol that represents a couple’s love and commitment. It is a never-ending knot with no beginning and no end, representing the idea that the love between two people is endless and unbreakable. Its design consists of two loops that intertwine, creating a beautiful and intricate pattern. The loops in the infinity knot that intertwine symbolize the joining of two lives into one.

Moreover, in handfasting, the infinity knot represents not only the infinite love but also the time the couple will spend together. Handfasting is a commitment to remain together for a year and a day. After that time, the couple can choose to either renew their vows or go their separate ways. The infinite aspect of the infinity knot serves as a reminder that the couples’ love and commitment to each other extends far beyond the year and a day time frame.

The infinity knot handfasting cord is a meaningful symbol in the handfasting ceremony. It represents the infinite and eternal love a couple has for each other, as well as the joining of their two lives together as one. It is a beautiful reminder of the commitment they make to each other and the love they share, and it serves as an inspiration for a long and happy life together.

How many handfasting cords do you need?

Handfasting is a beautiful and unique wedding ritual that dates back to ancient times. During this ceremony, the couple’s hands are tied together with cords or ribbons to symbolize their commitment to each other. Ideally, using different colored cords or ribbons can represent different aspects of the couple’s relationship and their hopes for the future.

While the number of cords used in a handfasting ceremony can vary depending on the couple’s preference, a minimum of two cords are required. It is important to note that an even number of cords should be used to maintain balance and harmony within the ceremony.

During the ceremony, the couple standing opposite each other, facing each other, with one pair of wrists resting on the other’s forearms. One cord is laid over the couple’s wrists, and the second cord is laid over their partner’s wrists. The cords are then tied together, securing the couple’s hands and uniting them in love and commitment.

However, some couples may choose to use more than two cords in their handfasting ceremony. The cords can represent different aspects of the couple’s relationship, such as love, trust, loyalty, and devotion, to name a few. Additionally, the cords can be of different colors, which can represent different aspects of the couple’s relationship. For instance, red could represent passion and love, while green may represent prosperity and growth.

The number of cords used in a handfasting ceremony can vary, but a minimum of two cords is recommended to maintain balance and harmony. Couples can use different colored cords to represent different aspects of their relationship, making the ceremony unique and more meaningful.