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Getting ready to say "I Do"

But, before you do, it might be nice to know exactly what is meant by “tying the knot”. Marriage is an institution with a rich history in many countries and cultures. Although different cultures may have different wedding traditions, there are similarities between many of these traditions. So where does the phrase “tie the knot” come from? Depends on who you ask.

  • Some say, it comes from the betrothal knot. Before things got fancy and diamond rings became the rage, one’s engagement status was symbolized by people wearing knotted cords, a betrothal knot, tied around different body parts.

  • In Persia and Iran, brides and grooms joined hands through a curtain separating them and a piece of cloth would be wrapped around them and tied with a symbolic knot. Then, a twist of yarn is wrapped around the couple seven times, then around the knot seven times.

  • The Celtic Handfasted Ceremony was performed without the clergy kind of as trial to marriage. Two people who were “handfasted” if they agreed to live as husband and wife for a year and a day, after which they could agree to separate, or else formalize their marriage in the presence of a priest. The couple would join hands and then tie their wrists and hands together with a long ribbon or strip of cloth, symbolizing the union. In some versions of this story, the wrists are cut so as to mingle the blood of bride and groom before tying the knot. Others say the bride and groom would each tear a strip off of their tartan and tie them together, thus symbolizing the union of the two clans.

  • It’s said that in ancient Rome, the bride wore an intricately knotted belt. The groom got to “untie the knots” on the wedding night.

  • Back in the day, Japanese priests would bind the bride and grooms hands with rope during the ceremony. In modern day, you will often see the priest place a sash around their hands rather than rope, and it is from this that the saying comes.

  • Some say that the phrase comes from the old marriage custom of actually tying the couple’s hands together as part of the ceremony. They couple was not allowed to untie the knot until they had consummated the marriage.

  • It’s said illiterate Swedish sailors and soldiers would send a piece of rope to their sweethearts as a proposal. If the rope came back with a knot in it, the knot meant she’d accepted his hand in marriage.

  • In Hindu wedding ceremonies, during the Gathabandhan portion of the ceremony the priest ties a knot using the ends of the clothing worn by the bride and groom. The priest ties the end of the groom’s dhoti or kurta, whichever he is wearing, with that of the bride’s sari; the knot signifies the sacred wedlock.

  • And, the Mexican Lasso or Lazzo Ceremony, where a cord (often of flowers) is draped around the shoulders of the bridal couple during to ceremony to signify that they are bound and being joined together by God.

Whatever the origin of the phrase, it’s the sentiment that really speaks volumes. Tying the knot is more than just a phrase, it’s become short-hand for the uniting of two souls which is a pretty powerful statement.

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