Handfastings are an ancient and beautiful ceremony that may incorporate Wiccan or Pagan beliefs. The term is derived from Old Norse dialect, hand-festa, “to strike a bargain by joining hands”. Beltane, 31 October in the Southern Hemisphere, is a popular date on which a couple might choose to be handfasted. They are usually held outdoors in a natural setting such as a beach or forest.
The marriage vows taken may be for “a year and a day” which is traditional, a lifetime, “for all of eternity” or “for as long as love shall last”. Whether the ceremony is legal, or a private spiritual commitment, is up to the couple.
Modern handfastings are performed for hetrosexual or homosexual couples, however in the case of homosexual couples the handfasting can not be made legal according to Australian Law.
As with many Neopagan rituals, some couples may use historically attested forms of the ceremony, striving to be as traditional as possible, while others may use only the basic idea of handfasting and largely create a new ceremony incorporating some of the rituals such as the knotting of the couples wrists, the loving cup and the jumping of the broom.