A hand-fasting is an old Pagan custom, dating back to the time of the ancient Celts. It was originally more like an engagement period, where two people would declare a binding union between themselves for a year and a day.
It was a trial marriage and subsequently gave the couple the chance to see if they could survive marriage to each other. After a year goes by (a hand-fasting was once believed to last a year and a day), the couple could either split as if they had never been married or could decide to enter permanently into marriage.
Today, Wiccans and Pagans have embraced hand-fasting as a part of their wedding ceremony. A hand-fasting can either be a legal marriage (depending on state law), or a commitment for "as long as love shall last”.
A hand-fasting ceremony can be tailor made to suit the couple. There are many variations of the traditional hand-fasting. After the bride and groom both declare their intent to enter into this union, the hands of the couple are clasped and fastened together with a cord or cords or ribbons, just before, just after, or during their vows are made to one another. The wrapping of the cord/ribbons forms an infinity symbol.
The hand-fasting knot that is tied is a symbolic representation of oneness between the couple. In a show of unity, they become bound to each other.
The hand-fasting ritual is a beautiful, magical rite of passage. Many non-Pagan and non-Wiccan couples are adopting this old custom, much like when couples borrow from other traditions to craft their own ceremony
to match their distinctive personalities.
Jumping The Broom
The broom as it is used today as part of the marriage or hand-fasting ceremonies.
Jumping the broom is symbolic of entering a new home together, even if couples are already sharing a home or are currently married and are renewing their vows. Jumping the broom can help symbolize entering a new stage of their relationship, and the leaving behind of thoughts, behaviors and patterns between the two.