Tying the Knot
Amy Bennett Photography

Tying the Knot

When someone says that they are “tying the knot,” it is understood that they mean they are getting married. But where did that term come from? Were people actually tied together when they were married? Did they tie each other shoes?

            Well the answer (at least the answer most historians can agree upon) is that the saying came form the Celtic wedding practice called hand-fasting. The way it works is that two people who wanted to be married would come together on a feast day and tell a priest their intentions. The priest would have the couple extend clasp hands and wrap a ribbon around the couple’s hand and proclaim them engaged. Then for a full year, the couple would live as if they were married and determine if they really wanted to be together. If by the end of the year they still wanted to marry, they would. Otherwise, the engagement would dissolve and both parties could find new suitors.

            Hand-fasting has been practiced since 7000 B.C.E and during this time, the tradition has spread to various empires such as Britain and western Europe where the ceremony became immersed into the wedding ceremony itself. If you’ve ever seen Game of Thrones or any other film with a medieval wedding, hand-fasting is present in almost all of them. And the tradition is still practiced today and the bride and groom, to showcase the strength of their love and unity, often keep the knot itself, like the one in the photo, as a keepsake. 

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