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  1. #1
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    Historical Perspectives on Handfasting

    The topic of handfasting has come up several places here on the forum. I recently saw this article on a social media feed. It provides some interesting historical perspective on the practice of handfasting. https://scotlandsgreateststory.wordp...g-eBL33drPBSzM
    "Cuimhnich air na daoine o'n d'thaining thu"
    Remember the men from whom you are descended.

  2. #2
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    There are several "hornets nests" that could be stirred up here. I have no interest in the religious aspect here, I am no legal expert and I have never seen hand fasting done, in Scotland or anywhere else and I know nothing about it.

    So with my "cards in plain sight on the table" for all to see and I have absolutely no axe to grind on this subject whatsoever.

    However, the thought does occur to me and let us just take Scottish laws of today as the example, so my question is:-

    Is this ceremony of" hand fasting" regarded as a legally binding form of marriage in a Court of Law in Scotland, today?
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 15th August 23 at 02:00 PM.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

  3. #3
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    No way intending to stir the pot. As far as I know, it is not legally binding today. (This from a friend in the Shetlands.) Our resident Scots might be able to add to this. It seems it is for romantic historical appearance only. As a minister, I have had many request for this with the assumption it was binding as is. Customs and traditions are interesting however.
    "Cuimhnich air na daoine o'n d'thaining thu"
    Remember the men from whom you are descended.

  4. #4
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    I have been a resident of Scotland for rather a long time!

    Your answer is pretty much what I expected. But, that raises another question.

    "Why do it?"
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

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  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jock Scot View Post
    I have been a resident of Scotland for rather a long time!

    Your answer is pretty much what I expected. But, that raises another question.

    "Why do it?"
    Jock, there are many ceremonies and rituals of various sorts that are sometimes appended to a more traditional marriage ceremony. If a licenced officiant is willing to sign the proper paper work, then any of them is legal since the ceremony is irrelevant to the registration.

    Some people just like handfasting, sand ceremonies, unity candles and all sorts of things. No accounting for tastes or preferences. Once I sign off, they're married under the law. Religious implications are a whole different issue.
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster. Lover of God, dogs, most people, joy, tradition, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Canadian Sinclair.

  7. #6
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    Oh I quite understand what both of you are saying,what I have trouble with is this attachment to a ceremony that appears to be historical mumbo jumbo, dressed up as some as some sort of “must do” part of a marriage.

    Please don’t misunderstand me, if that is what it takes for a couple to feel married then far be it for me to comment. Personally I got married for all sorts of good reasons, but religion was not one of them. So I do understand.
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 15th August 23 at 03:15 PM.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

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  9. #7
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    Up until the second half of the 19th century, clergy was often scarce in parts of the rural South, especially in the mountains. I have come across references to couples doing a
    handfasting and setting up household to put a public face on the relationship in case progeny arrived before clergy could be arranged. Especially if westward migration was in
    the offing. When connection could be made with clergy, appropriate rites were done and often considered backdated for the benefit of the children, if any had arrived. Also
    mentioned on occasion was the jumping of a broom, which served a similar purpose, i.e., a public announcement of intent to keep joint household and start a family.

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  11. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by tripleblessed View Post
    Up until the second half of the 19th century, clergy was often scarce in parts of the rural South, especially in the mountains. I have come across references to couples doing a
    handfasting and setting up household to put a public face on the relationship in case progeny arrived before clergy could be arranged. Especially if westward migration was in
    the offing. When connection could be made with clergy, appropriate rites were done and often considered backdated for the benefit of the children, if any had arrived. Also
    mentioned on occasion was the jumping of a broom, which served a similar purpose, i.e., a public announcement of intent to keep joint household and start a family.
    Aha! A historical context.
    I was wondering about this “jumping the broom” thing too. So are we talking more of colonial adaptations to fit the circumstance, rather than a general Scottish procedure?
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 15th August 23 at 10:29 PM.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

  12. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jock Scot View Post
    Is this ceremony of" hand fasting" regarded as a legally binding form of marriage in a Court of Law in Scotland, today?
    In most of the USA (where much of our law comes from English common law), there is such thing as a common law marriage. If two people agree to be married, represent themselves to others as being married, and live as husband and wife, they may be considered legally married - whether there is any official paperwork to that effect or not.

    But Google tells me that common law marriage does not legally exist in Scotland. That actually sort of surprises me.

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  14. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobus View Post
    -----------

    But Google tells me that common law marriage does not legally exist in Scotland. That actually sort of surprises me.
    I didn't know that, but I am not surprised.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

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