Among the various ways you can refer to marriage, the phrase “tying the knot” is often heard. But where does it come from? Interestingly, tying the knot is actually in relation to one of the oldest wedding traditions that literally binds a couple’s hands together. Embracing hands has long been a symbol of love and the ritual of handfasting dates back to the ancient Mayans, the Hindu Vedic community, and the Celts in Scotland.
According to BBC, “handfasting is the symbolic act of a couple’s hands being tied together, often with cords or ribbons, representing their union.” The most evidence of where this ritual originated was present around the Middle Ages, but handfasting was a symbol of engagement, not marriage. Prior to 1939, it was legally recognized by Scotland as a marriage practice in place of church weddings.
Modern couples in Scotland still choose to continue the tradition today either at the same time or the same day of their legal union. The ceremony is often connected to nature and typically takes place outdoors. There are also other variations of tying the knot across different cultures and couples. The phrase “hand in marriage” also stems from this practice.