Corkey Trivia: Scottish Civil Unions

Tie two pieces together and the two pieces become one. Perhaps this is why the term “tying the knot” has become a popular metaphor for marriage across many cultures. It’s a lovely and romantic notion that two people in love can become one entity. Ancient Celts even practiced a tradition known as “handfasting”, which was legal in Scotland up until 1939.   In front of family and friends, two people faced each other and a community official tied their four wrists together, their arms forming a figure eight, ∞, a symbol for infinity. The couple could then live together with the approval of the community. “Handfasting” was actually more like a betrothal for a year and a day. If the living arrangements did not work for them, they could generally part ways with no stigma attached, as long as the union was un-consummated.

After all, loving someone is easy. It’s living with them that is hard. Tying two separate pieces together to make a single piece leaves a knot in the middle. The one piece certainly isn’t smooth. The knot makes it more complicated than having two separate pieces, and the joined piece could even be lopsided or mismatched.

The ancient Celts had many different forms of marriage with different levels of obligation. Like today, they had marriages requiring pre-nuptial agreements involving a wealthy person or persons, as well as your run of the mill, no “pre-nup” necessary, marriages, among other forms.