Beltane, which takes place on May eve (April 30th – May 1st) honours Life. It celebrates the Great Wedding of the Goddess and the God and is a popular time for pagan weddings or Handfastings. Handfastings are a traditional engagement for ‘a year and a day’ after which a couple would either choose to stay together or part without recrimination. Beltane was earlier in May, however, it is common for the handfasting to continue this month. If you were wondering what exactly handfasting refers to, we will break it down for you.
What is a handfasting
Traditionally a handfasting was more of an engagement period than a wedding. A couple would come together and commit themselves to each other for the period of one year and one day. After that time they would either part ways or join together in marriage permanently. While so people still use the handfasting custom as a trial period for their relationships, more often you will find it embraced as part of their wedding ceremony. Depending on the officiant a handfasting can be a legal marriage, or a commitment to each other for “as long as love shall last.”
Handfastings are very customizable. They will change from couple to couple and priest or priestess. The core of the handfasting ceremony is the binding together of two people. The saying “tying the knot” becomes literal instead of a verbal representation. They ceremony will open with the officiant explaining the ritual and its meaning to the couple. They are then invited to join hands, this represents them entering into the union of their own free will. Some people stand across from each other and join their left hand to left hand, others choose to stand side by side joining right and left hands instead. The clasped hands will then be bound together that way. The vows are then read while the cords are wrapped around their hands and wrists. Some people use a separate cord for each vow, while others braid multiple cords together and wrap them as one interwoven cord around their hands.
If you are incorporating a hand fasting into your wedding after the cords are tied is when you would exchange rings.