Question 4: HAND FASTING A friend asked me what "hand-fasting" was. Could you explain if the concept is a Scottish one?

A recent article describes "hand fasting" as having Celtic, Norse and Teutonic origins. It further suggests that its Scottish popularity was in the more remote areas of the Highlands. Traditional Celtic "hand-fasting" weddings supposedly died out in the Dark Ages, but they were replaced by Christian marriages as the Catholic Church condemned the ancient customs.

Thanks to the Mel Gibson movie "Braveheart", which portrayed Wallace and his bride in a handfasting ceremony in front of a Celtic cross, the custom has been making a comeback.

In the year 2000, nearly 20 traditional Celtic weddings have taken place - with very few modifications. It used to be that Celtic couples were married by having a cord placed loosely across their hands. If they decided within a year that they had "made a mistake" the marriage could be annulled. If they decided to stay together, they placed the cord across their arms and symbolically tied both ends. Hence the term "tying the knot".

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