Celtic Handfast

This ceremony is gaining in popularity recently as more couples are looking for a way to incorporate their heritage into their ceremony. We have all heard the expressions “tied the knot” or “giving one’s hand in marriage." This is where those sayings came from.  It’s in reference to the ancient tradition of hand-fasting where the couple actually tie a knot to symbolize their union as one and the agreement between them.


The term Handfasting is taken from Old Norse “hand-festa” meaning “to strike a bargain by joining hands”. Handfasting wedding ceremony is the tradition of lightly binding the hands of a couple together using a cord, rope, ribbons, a scarf, tartan or strips of fabric. It is meant to signify a couples coming together as “One”.  Whatever it’s original intention, it has become a popular new tradition for today’s couples seeking new and Spiritual ways to honor their love.


Handfasting was originally practiced by the Greeks and Romans. The Romans created a garland made of magnolia, elder and roses. It was then wrapped around the couple’s wrists to signify love and fidelity.


In ancient legends, lovers were united together as they “tied the knot” in the tradition of Celtic handfasting. The ceremony was especially common in Ireland and Scotland. It was commonly the way that couples were “officially” married before the church became involved in Wedding ceremonies.


Variations on the theme have since been used in other countries as well. In the traditions of Celtic hand fasting the couple’s wrists are bound together using ribbons of thirteen different colors. Each color has it’s own special meaning:


There are many modern types of code and ribbon traditions. I  especially like the one where the couple weaves or braids the cord together prior to the ceremony and attaches items from various family members. Sometimes even the moms get involved and create the braid for the couple. What ever way you like it you are sure to create a beautiful memory with this ceremony!


Red: passion, strength, lust, fertility

Orange: encouragement, attraction, kindness, plenty

Yellow: charm, confidence, joy, balance

Green: finances, fertility, charity, prosperity, health

Blue: tranquility, patience, devotion, sincerity

Purple: Power, piety, sanctity, sentimentality

Black: strength, wisdom, vision, success

White: purity, concentration, meditation, peace

Gray: neutrality, canceling, balance

Pink: unity, honor, truth, romance, happiness

Brown: earth, grounding, talent, telepathy, home

Silver: treasure, values, creativity, inspiration

Gold: energy, wealth, intelligence, longevity.