Celtic/Neopagan handfasting

Overview:

There are two conflicting beliefs about the history of Handfasting:

bullet Handfasting” was the word used by the ancient Celts to describe their traditional trial-marriage ceremony, during which couples were literally bound together. The handfasting was  a temporary agreement, that expired after a year and a day. However, it could be made permanent after the year was up, if both spouses agreed.
bullet Handfasting” was the word used throughout the once-Celtic lands of Scotland and Northern England to refer to a commitment of betrothal or engagement. It was a ceremony in which the couple publicly declared their intention to marry one year and a day in the future. In 1820,  Sir Walter Scott used the term to refer to a fictional sacred ritual that bound the couple in a form of temporary marriage for a year and a day. He wrote of it in his book “The Monastery:

“When we are handfasted, as we term it, we are man and wife for a year and a day; that space gone by, each may choose another mate, or, at their pleasure, may call the priest to marry them for life; and this we call handfasting.” 1,2

Handfasting was suppressed following the Synod of Whitby in 664 [CE}…when Celtic Christianity was abandoned and Catholicism followed.

Even though the historical legitimacy of handfasting as a form of trial marriage is in doubt, some Wiccans and other Neopaganstoday create handfasting rituals for their own use or adopt ceremonies written by other Neopagans.

During the 1995 movie, Braveheart, Mel Gibson, in the role of William Wallace, was handfasted with his girlfriend Murron. Handfasting has since grown in popularity among Cowans (non-Pagans) — particularly those whose ancestors lived in ancient Celtic lands. 3

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What is the legal status of a handfasting ritual?…

To read the rest of this article please click on this link: http://www.religioustolerance.org/mar_hand.htm

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