There are so many different phrases we use to signify marriage, from “walking down the aisle” to “getting hitched” and beyond. The meanings behind most of the phrases are clear, but some expressions seem more obscure…like “tying the knot”. Why do we say someone who got married “tied the knot”?

“Tying the knot” goes back to the ancient ritual of “handfasting”, which was a tradition practiced in several cultures, like the Vedic Hindu, the ancient Mayans, and Scottish Celts. In Scotland, the ceremony saw couples stand next to one another as their hands got tied together with ribbons or cords. And there were a number of ways that a couple could be fastened together, including having a knot tied after each vow.

This particular tradition was popular throughout the Middle Ages, but handfasting was seen more as a symbol of betrothal, not actual marriage, symbolizing the start of a trial period that would last for one year & a day. After that, if the couple still liked one another, they’d have a second ceremony to officially seal the deal.

In lieu of church weddings, handfasting rituals were legally binding in Scotland until the 1939 passing of the Scottish Marriage Act. Then, in 2004, the country changed course again & once again accepted handfasting as a legally valid form of matrimony whenever performed by a licensed officiant. Today, handfasting ceremonies still happen all around the world & are steeped in romance and tradition.

So, if you’re looking to have an out-of-the-ordinary wedding ceremony, maybe look into a handfasting ritual to set your ceremony apart from everyone else’s. I’ll be looking for my invitation in the mail soon.

Got a Mundane Mystery you’d like solved? Send me a message via social media (@AndyWebbRadioVoice), or shoot me an email at [email protected].

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