Happy Handfasting!

So many people want their handfasting to be on one of the eight sacred days of the current Pagan calendar. 

And who could blame them? These are great days for gathering, feasting and affirming commitment to each other, our selves and our path. 

Many people choose Litha, or the Summer Solstice for this occasion. As the day of the most light, it represents triumph at the same time that it represents the possibility of the harvest yet to come. It can be seen as the high point of the year, but by no means the end of the year. 

Additionally, the weather is generally the most amenable to an outdoor celebration and, in many cases, it can be the most predictable. These are important considerations for the happy couple and their event planner! 

There are some drawbacks to a June, Summer Solstice event, at least here in Colorado. Lately it’s the weather. Colorado is a part of the Southwest US Monsoon area, which means that the rains fall like clockwork every afternoon. While this used to begin in mid-July, This year it appears to have begun early which will affect events from June through mid-September. Woe betide the event planner that overlooks this little fact! Plan a morning wedding, or at least make arrangements for shelter for any part of the event that takes place in the afternoon through early evening. 

For more information on the Southwest US Monsoon, see this website: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/gjt/Weather_Info/monsoon.php

The next hurdle is site availability. For events in the summer you will do well to plan ahead, even a year ahead, for sites that are popular, particularly when they have amenities like shelter, kitchens, running water, real bathrooms! Think of what you would need for a large family reunion and compare the site of your dreams to that. Where there are gaps, you’ll need to provide solutions. 

Are many of your guests Pagan? Get the word out early to make sure that your Handfasting is the #1 item on their Summer Solstice calendar. Many officiants will not be available at all on that busy Pagan holiday, or would only be busy if you book them first! 

If you’ve run into too many hurdles to overcome for the Summer Solstice Handfasting that you desire for this year, you have options. You can decide to plan for next year, carefully booking everything now so that you can have it then! Or, you can pick another date. 

Take a moment to consider the sacred meanings that are attached to those sacred days. You may find that one of these is more perfect than you realized for the ceremony that you want to create. 

2 February: Feast of Imbolc, Brigit’s Day, Candlemas. 

This is a day associated with the earliest stirrings of new life, new promise and also with sacred candlelight. For those on a Celtic path, the blessing of Brigit is a strong, good omen for new ventures. Brigit is associated with smith craft  wheat and poetry, lending an intrinsic beauty to the day. The precious metal of your rings and the creativity of your vows and any readings or songs will be the symbols of the magic of this day. 

20-23 March: Vernal Equinox, Ostara, Eostre. 

An event associated to the Vernal Equinox can be held on that day, or on the closest Full Moon to that date. The moon takes special prominence in this holiday, and, if you know how, you can most clearly see the rabbit image in that bright orb at this time of year. Events associated with this special day carry omens of fertility, renewal of the land, the joy of springtime and the savory chocolate treats that have become so much a part of this celebration. These celebrations are playful, joyful and colorful and are perfect for the inclusion of children in the happy day. An ecological theme would be a nice match to an Ostara handfasting. 

1 May: Beltaine, Beltania, May Day.

This is traditionally when “sweet desire weds wild delight!” As the first day of Summer on the old calendar, and the time of year when the Hawthorne comes into bloom, this is generally a flowery day. Between the bright ribbons of the May Pole and the bouquets of new blossoms  the trappings of all weddings find their ancestry here. It is a perfect holiday for a wedding, with the theme of joining and loving replete across the symbols and customs. 

20 - 23 June: Litha, Summer Solstice.

The longest day and the shortest night show the last moment of triumph in the light half of the year. As indicated above, this day represents triumph as well as the prospect of the bounty of the harvest to come. Tribes have gathered for this occasion for thousands of years and it therefore carries the historic symbolism of the unity of the greater tribe under the height of the sun. 

1 August: Lammas, Lughnasadh.

This is the first feast of the harvest and stands as sign that the people will have what they need through the end of the year ahead. The day holds the recognition that the bounty of the harvest is the result of sacrifice, hard work and the giving-bounty of the Earth.  It is perfect for a Handfasting between two people who understand what it takes to make their partnership work. The joy of the day is in the food, especially breads, or any grain based dishes. The blessing of the Earth Mother is strong on this day and the couple, or families, being joined together have the opportunity to share the first fruits of their union with those people who are closest to them. 

20 - 23 September: Autumnal Equinox, Mabon.

Life flares up in the leaves in one last burst of love, even as it drains to the roots. This holiday marks an important turning in the year. For many people, this is their favorite time of year, so colorful and crisp, usually an escape from the last burning days of summer. In some traditions this is the holiday of the Goddess’s descent into the underworld, taking with Her our hopes and dreams for the future, to bring them to life again after their magic, winter sleep. In other traditions this is a celebration of Her son as the Welsh Mabon, a figure of great loyalty and promise. It is an excellent date for a commitment of loyalty and magic, a celebration of a new season of life. It is a time of drawing together and moving indoors. 

31 October: Samhain.

As everyone knows this is the best date for a highly creative event perfect for a masquerade, whether for the solemnities or for the reception to follow. If your celebration invites costumed revelry you could pick no better day than this. Often called Pagan New Years, it brings an energy of mystery, reverence and hilarity all at once. A mystical theme is perfect for this date, as well as any ceremony that specifically honors the ancestors, whose lives brought us to this place. On Samhain, the veil is thin and magic is afoot!

20 - 23 December: Winter Solstice, Yule

On this day light triumphs over darkness and our bonds with each other triumph over the unpredictable forces which try to pull us apart. As long as your guests are prepared for the weather, any kind of celebration is possible on this date! Traditional songs about the union of the Holly and the Ivy will pair well with vows of commitment. Many traditions of the season will add sparkle to a handfasting and memories for years to come. Singing, music and good, hearty foods are customary for this celebration of prosperity in the midst of winter. Candlelight ceremonies on the Winter Solstice are both traditional and memorable. 

I hope that this gives you some inspiration for that blessed day. I wish you the brightest blessings. 

Happy Handfasting!

© Paulie Rainbow 2013