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Handfasting

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A sort of marriage. A fair was at one time held in Dumfriesshire, at which a young man was allowed to pick out a female companion to live with him. They lived together for twelve months, and if they both liked the arrangement were man and wife. This was called hand-fasting or hand-fastening.

This sort of contract was common among the Romans and Jews, and is not unusual in the East even now.

“‘Knowest thou not that rite, holy man?ʹ said A venel … .; ‘then I will tell thee. We bordermen … . take our wives for a year and a day; that space gone by, each may choose another mate, or, at their pleasure, [they] may call the priest to marry them for life, and this we call handfasting.ʹ”—Sir W. Scott: The Monastery, chap. xxv.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Hand-post (A)
Hand Round (To)
Hand and Glove (They are)
Hand and Seal
Hand-in-Hand
Hand of Cards
Hand of Justice
Hand over Hand
Hand the Sail
Hand Down to Posterity (To)
Handfasting
Handicap
Handkerchief
Handkerchief and Sword
Handle
Handsome = liberal
Handwriting on the Wall (The)
Handycuffs
Hang Back (To)
Hang Fire (To)
Hang On (To)