Interestingly, there was a tradition in Buckie in Banffshire, Scotland, where fishermen would clean the chimney of the soot on the run up to Yule. A life demands a life. With her hand resembling a blasted branch, she would point a finger at your head and send you mad or put her hand on your heart, stopping it dead. Evil Spurn Yule Cleansing Ritual. I have to say I don't think we make as much of this as I think we should. Others say it might be a way or propitiating the spirits, like ‘knocking on wood for luck’, or perhaps reminiscent of earlier sacrifices carried out at this time of year. Christmas swim. Many of the Scottish traditions are rooted in the customs of ancient Celtic culture and the Roman Catholic Church practices. One thing we do in our household to mark the solstice is quite simple and involves making Yule bread. The roots of the Christmas traditions that we recognize today can be traced back to pre-Christian celebrations of the Winter solstice. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months. Parham, R. J. Courtney, M.A. Food shortages were common during the first months of the winter, so this festival was the last celebration before deep winter began. We take a look at the almost completely lost highland tradition of the Clach an Groait stone, the world famous Orkney Ba tournament, and an old lady and her festive pig. The Saturnalia eventually degenerated into a week-long spree of debauchery and crime which was ultimately unsustainable. voicin’ oor thouchts aboot the day ganged by. The male ash tree (heder) would protect against female witches. According to Hesiod, the people of the third age of the world (Bronze Age) were born of the Ash tree. The ancient people of northern Europe were hunter gatherers, many of whom worshipped the sun. It's also a time to celebrate with family and friends, and share the spirit of giving during the holidays. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months. Did the entry of the sun represent rebirth, or a fertility rite of some sort? It was also to symbolise the idea that life could continue in the darkness, since around Christmas is the longest nights of the year. Because green wood was used, it would have made quite a loud noise when it did snap. ‘When the hallow days o Yule were come Get a Yule kebbuck – a special cheese flavoured with caraway seed. Charity to others in the community was also a big part of Yule. light the new block, In Ireland, the yule-log was called the bloc na Nollaig, or Christmas block. Ash keys, once pickled, are a bit like capers. Take them home and bring about two cups of water to the boil. Everybody knows the Scots love a party, especially when there’s a glass or two of whisky involved, so it might come as something of a surprise to find that one of the biggest celebrations of the year was actually missing from the Scottish party calendar – for almost four centuries! To dream of pulling the ‘birk sae green’ portends death in the ballad, ‘The Braes o Yarrow’. Here at Best Scottish Tours we love Christmas. Beare. Scottish Traditions Yule. Amazingly, this dour, joy-crushing attitude lasted for 400 years. 11022198. Rather than write out the entire process you can find a great recipe here from the fantastic forager Robin Harford, based in Galloway. Let your heart be made clean This bizarre celebration takes place on the first day of the New Year. Find a birch tree and take off some of the small twigs found at the edge of the branches. Each took turns: singing and toasting to a great Yule. People put presents under the tree and leave mince pies for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve. How One Scottish Town Revived a Local Tradition After 80 Years The “Stromness Yule Log Pull” is officially back. Is of peace, good and right This precise alignment allows the light at the darkest point of the year to illuminate this spectacular house of the dead. The dead would come a knocking at Yule time. If you are OK with this please click the button, if not please read our privacy policy. Wreaths of ash were wrapped around cow horns, and English mothers rigged little hammocks for their newborns in ash trees, believing the tree would protect them from witches and wild animals whilst they worked. This Yuletide maybe bring a little of the protective magic of birch and ash into your home. Yule time traditions date far back to the Druids and Pagans. Christmas Traditions in Scotland 20th December 2020. The winners were the team who could drag the Yule log to their side of the town. Cover with a lid and decoct, simmering for around 20 mins. Yuletide Traditions of Scotland. Scottish people celebrate Christmas by drawing on plenty of other traditions found across countries in Europe and the West. Some suggest this replaced the proprietary sacrifice required at this time. Christmas spirit, a potent blend of being kind and nice to others, is what we require the most now. Evolved from Pagan celebrations of Yule, Hogmanay is observed just before the New Year. Before the birth of Christianity, these traditions were given the name of 'Yule' or 'Yuletide', since it was celebrated mid-winter, during the solstice. At this time of year there’s plenty washed up on the beach. Welcome to the True Highlands blog. (Interestingly a figure of a man was chalked in a similar fashion in Cornwall). People who describe themselves as new-age or spiritual seekers have rediscovered the rituals of the ancients and have attempted to celebrate in a way that connects them to the past. Christmas comes late for residents of one tiny Scottish island who will celebrate the festivities today in a tradition that has lasted for as long as anyone living there can remember. It has a nice sweet winter green like taste. Following on from the idea of traditional bannocks at festival times of the year and light, in this case candle, through the night. This is so the ‘old fire and the new fire burn together’. It is the source of many theories; does this shaft of sunlight carry away the souls of the dead? There is an old Scottish saying, ‘He’s as bare as the birk at Yule E’en’, alluding to having no clothes or being poor. At one time guisers were as common at New Year as they were at Halloween. Today's games are at the same time, both similar and dis similar, from the original Clan contests which are at the roots of these games. On farms in 18th century Norfolk the best cider was served only as long as the Yule log burnt. A loaf of unleavened bread is baked for each individual in the family, and the person who finds a trinket in his or her loaf will have good luck all year. #FolkloreThursday 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, United Kingdom, WC1N 3AX. Linked but distinct from this, Welsh folk looked to their shadows cast by the Yule log from the fire, looking to see who would appear on the walls as headless shadows. As soon as the Yule log stopped burning it was back to the bad cider. Most of our Scottish Christmas gifts can be made to measure in over 500 Scottish clan tartans - find the right one using our Scottish Tartan & Clan Finder. (1890) Cornish Feasts and Folklore. This winter solstice was immensely important to them because they were economically dependent on monitoring the progress of the seasons. In Scotland, folk used to sit on the Yule log before it was burnt, and, if it was big enough, when it was on the fire. A toast would be raised to the snapping of bands, and the festivities would continue. You can see this idea echoed in the poem by Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674): ‘With last year’s brand The greeting in Scottish Language Dictionaries' Christmas card is usually 'Guid Yule' and as we approach this season, the word itself might trigger memories for you. In Scotland, you'll see Christmas trees lighting up people's houses and wreaths on the front door. One Scottish tradition is to keep their Christmas fires going all night long on Christmas Eve. It never stops to astonish me how often the Cailleach appears in Scottish folk traditions. Edinburgh. When stripped of its bark, the birk, or birch, was dried for burning over the Yules. Containing descriptions of their scenery and Antiquities. During the ban, bakers were required to give the authorities the name of anyone requesting this holiday staple. Whoever finds a … It was built at around the same time and its architecture clearly links it to the solstice tradition. See more ideas about yule, yule traditions, yuletide. Following the Reformation, however, these traditional celebrations became frowned upon. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking. A conventional Christmas lunch includes Scotch broth, smoked salmon, roast turkey, roast potatoes, carrots, brussel sprouts, Christmas pudding and brandy custard. Shamrock – national flower of Ireland . It was also the Druidic priests who maintained the tradition of the yule log. As the old year ends and the New Year is ushered in with the promise of a new start, warmer weather and new growth, it seems only natural to celebrate wildly! The modern practice of gift giving evolved from the tradition of hanging gifts on the tree as offerings to various Gods and Goddesses. And Jenny to her wheel.” If we look beyond this, nature’s gift and sacrifice is found in the burning heart of Yule – the Yule log of ash or birch. Those that did were destined to die. The birk in this case refers to the birch tree. A loaf of unleavened bread was baked for each individual in the family - made with caraway seeds, it looks a bit like a rope arranged into a circle. A huge thank you to all of our official sponsors, and everyone who pledges to keep #FolkloreThursday running! Ash is in the same family as the oilive tree (oleaceae). Yule Figgy Pudding. On the practical side, as long as the Yule log burnt, the feasting would continue, so Scottish folk always tried to get the biggest log to burn. This ‘saved’ part of the log was said to protect houses from burning down and if kept under the bed was even said to protect from chilblains. Some believe this might represent a way of giving thanks to the tree for its gift of light and heat. Instead of the £99 it costs tourists to watch sunrise at Stonehenge there will be a community of pagans, druids and assorted curious people gathered at Callanish on the solstice who will not be charged or chaperoned. Some folk gently roast the twigs, which is said to make the brew a little sweeter. Prior to the Reformation of 1560, Christmas in Scotland, then called Yule (alternative spellings include Yhoill, Yuil, Ȝule and Ȝoull; see Yogh), was celebrated in a similar fashion to the rest of Catholic Europe. Perhaps you know someone with an affinity or connection with a Scottish Clan? 3. In this episode, Annie and Jenny take a festive Yuletide jaunt around Christmas time traditions in Scotland. Both of these are traditions we have borrowed from the North. It is here at the winter solstice, when the last rays of the setting sun shine through Maeshowe’s entrance passage to pierce the darkness of the chambered cairn. Christmas Special: Highland Yule Traditions. The Winter Solstice falls on the 21st of December. This ash faggot Night In Scotland, you'll see Christmas trees lighting up people's houses and wreaths on the front door. Scottish traditions have their roots deep-set in history, and the Highland Games have been around for over a thousand years, perhaps even longer. The gathering of the Yule log was announced with much drama and mirth. (2014) ‘Exmoor Traditions’, Folk Traditions Quarterly (2014) p41. Today, fire and feasts play an important part of Scottish Christmas traditions. Sae Jock maun to his flail again Holly and mistletoe have remained symbols of Christmas as has the yule log and the yule boar or Christmas ham as it’s now known. Sol Invictus (“The Unconquered Sun”) was originally a Syrian deity, who was adopted as the chief of the Roman gods. Much of our current festive tradition actually originates with pagan solstice customs, such as decorating the Yule tree. Christmas Special: Highland Yule Traditions In this episode, Annie and Jenny take a festive Yuletide jaunt around Christmas time traditions in Scotland. A contest between Northenders and Southenders would then start, each team tugging and pulling their side. The Yule log was burned in the fireplace, there was kissing under the mistletoe (related to a Druidic fertility rite) and the house was decorated with … Company registered in England & Wales, no. If you didn't keep your fire burning continually, unwanted spirits would supposedly come down the fireplace and into your home, bringing bad luck. This was a time when the ordinary rules were turned upside down. About a month before Yule rolls in, start thinking about all the clutter you've … the Yule log crackles oan this Christmas Nicht, by Eric Grundhauser January 4, 2018. One of the Scottish Christmas traditions that was banned for so many years included the baking of Yule bread. Not only for the light and warmth but also to keep alive a tradition with roots far deeper than any tree. You need a small handful for one cup. Jim’s son James K. Yule will also be joining the family when he takes his HGV driving test this summer. Instead, the habit of visiting each other’s houses on 26 th December has continued, without hunting small birds! She did this by placing a green ash branch into the fire and letting the sap drip out the other end onto a spoon, feeding it straight away to the bairn just born. Christmas Traditions - a Scottish Christmas is very similar to Christmas throughout the world. Divinations were made according to the burst and snap of the willow, hazel or green ash bands around the log as it swelled in the fire. No content from this site may be used elsewhere without the permission of either #FolkloreThursday or the article author. Up to a thousand people in fancy dress throw themselves into the icy water of the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry, just a few miles out of the Scottish … Wars were interrupted or postponed and slaves were served by their masters. Cut of the twigs into smaller pieces and place them in the now boiling water. Grudges and quarrels were forgotten while businesses, courts and schools were closed. A wand ‘o bonny birk’ is laid on the breast of the dead in Sweet William’s Ghost. This overindulgence kicked off the traditions of the Yuletide, the Yule feast and the Yule Log. Maeshowe is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave on Orkney. Christmas traditions in Scotland. At the mid-winter solstice they would light bonfires, tell stories and drink ale, in addition to making sacrifices to the gods to earn blessing on the forthcoming crops. One of their traditions was the yule bread loaf. In the Highlands, the midwife would make sure the first thing a newborn ate was ash sap. The Yules are no exception, even though at Yuletide the greenery has all but gone, the ground grasped in winter’s frozen embrace. These foods, along with plentiful meat, featured heavily in the celebrations, and every effort was made to obtain flesh and eat it after the sun had set on Yule. Regardless of the type of tree burnt, folks would ensure they kept a piece of the burnt Yule log throughout the year that followed. For example, some folk like to bake unleavened Yule bread for each person in their family. This Yule log tradition began all the way back in the 8th century when Viking families would save a log to be burned on the shortest day of the year and it was lit by the previous year’s log to bring prosperity and protection to everyone present. Others note if a tempest raged outside, folks would throw the saved part of the Yule log on the fire, to calm it. Keeping Christmas cake or the remains of the Yule Log under the bed was also thought to help get rid of chilblains. “While Santa keeks doon frae the mantle above, There are traditional Christmas trees (most likely Scots pines), adorned with all kinds of shiny and twinkling stuff. Edinburgh. and for good successe in spending We take a look at the almost completely lost highland tradition of the Clach an Groait stone, the world famous Orkney Ba tournament, and an old lady and her festive pig. Creating a way for you to bring a little of the trees magic into your pantry. Recipes for such foods as the Ye’el Bannock or Yule Bannock, ‘sour cakes’ or ‘soor poos’ are still around today. The old wood was lit, then the new log was placed on top. Christmas is cancelled! Necromancy and the dead are very common in Scottish folk magic, which you can read more about here. Then in and came her ain twa sons In the northern hemisphere the Winter solstice usually occurs annually between December 20 and December 23. They were known to bring greenery like Mistletoe into the house to be hung and encourage fertility (you can see where the kissing tradition came in!). Teutonic mythology argues the first people came from the Ash tree with links to Yggdrasil, the world tree, spine of the worlds. (1824) The Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland. Thanks to modern technology it is possible to experience a small part of what the original solstice celebrants must have envisioned. During Christmas morning, these Celtic descendants take a dip in the sea. There are records of charges being brought against people for keeping "Yule" as it was called in Scotland. Macculoch, J. On Christmas … Over a thousand years later, some Scottish festive traditions still bear reference to the Vikings and Yule. On your psalters pray One is for birch twig tea, the other for pickled ash keys. In Irish (Gaelic) Nollaig Shona Duit means 'Happy Christmas to you.' During the summer a log is cut and dried. The tradition of the Yule log began in Celtic times when it was believed that the sun stood still for 12 days during winter. The following two tabs change content below. If you would like to submit a blog post we welcome these from True Highlands members, so get listed! Sun return’. You never have to put out the bins, queue for milk at the supermarket or worry about the … Beith , M (1995) Healing Threads. Irish Christmas Blessings. Until the 1960s, Christmas Day was a normal working day for most people in Scotland. A gift demands a gift. Yule, the winter solstice, is a time of great symbolism and power.It marks the return of the sun, when the days finally begin to get a little longer. Prior to the Reformation of 1560, Christmas in Scotland was called Yule, and also Yhoill or Yuil. Traditional medicine of the highlands and islands. In Stromness, Orkney, up until 1936, a tug of war would ensue over the biggest Yule log. That side of the town would then supposedly ‘hold the luck’ for the year. And we have feasted weel Baker, M (1980) Discovering the Folklore of Plants. One of the modern traditions in Scotland is charity runs. The ancient Celtic people believed that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit, using the remains of the previous year’s fire. One still-popular custom is first-footing, which traditionally saw the first visitor to set foot in the household bring a gift such as coal, shortbread, salt, black bun or whisky. Viking Yule. … Traditional Scottish Christmas Gifts. In Ireland the tree was burnt to banish the Devil, and may be why it features as a Yule log. That sweet luck Rising up out of the scrub of birch and oak, it drifted up to lonely travellers so fast they could not escape. The above is taken from the ‘Wife of Usher’s Well’, found in English and Scottish Popular Ballads, collected by Francis James Child. Some traditions kept the ash from the Yule log in the cellar, protecting from witches and bringing good luck. by Catherine Bentley | Dec 17, 2015 | Fascinating Facts, History & Folklore. Today folks still whip themselves with birch twigs after a sauna, some say to increase fertility, others suggest it drives away evil spirits. Scottish traditions have their roots deep-set in history, and the Highland Games have been around for over a thousand years, perhaps even longer. The years worth of soot was said to be ‘soot for the de’ils breakfast’ and served to the de’il or devil on Yule morning. – Popular Rhymes in Scotland. Today's games are at the same time, both similar and dis similar, from the original Clan contests which are at the roots of these games. Divination was once a popular custom. In Somerset, there is a legend where ‘the one with the white hand’ (a birch it is believed) was a spirit haunting Taunton Moorland. It’s easy to see why in some cases the Yule log was nigh on a tree trunk. A Pudding known as Clootie dumpling is a traditional Christmas dessert in Scotland; children eat it … (1962) Sacrifice and Sacrament. Then, with the powerful Kirk frowning upon anything related to Roman Catholicism, the Scottish Parliament passed a law in 1640 that made celebrating ‘Yule vacations’ illegal. First Footing After the stroke of midnight, neighbors visit each other, bearing traditional symbolic … She was deadly pale and wore clothes rustling like dry dead leaves. If you want to take part in it, you can go to the Sandycove in Dublin, where you can join those who can brave the cold temperatures for a swim who are usually in the hundreds. One of the Scottish Christmas traditions that was banned for many years was the baking of Yule bread. Christmas comes late for residents of one tiny Scottish island who will celebrate the festivities today in a tradition that has lasted for as long as anyone living there can remember. This ‘sacrifice’ helped keep death at bay until next Yule. In a way, this serves a purpose not completely divorced from the original intentions. There are many perks to being a member of the Royal Family. Over the centuries, pagan Celtic customs merged with Christianity to produce some unique traditions for the winter festival. An earlier Scottish version of the ‘Twelve Days’ rhyme was called ‘The Yule Days’ and featured in Robert Chambers’s Popular Rhymes of Scotland (1842). What is common in most solstice tradition is that this time of year is about coming together and remembering the past. Sprinkle it with a libation of ale before setting light to it in your fireplace or outside. Yule or Yuletide ("Yule time" or "Yule season") is a festival historically observed by the Germanic peoples.Scholars have connected the original celebrations of Yule to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.. Later departing from its pagan roots, Yule underwent Christianised reformulation, resulting in the term Christmastide. The tradition of the Yule log is also practiced in Scotland at Christmas time. Ash has so much folklore surrounding it; it’s hard just to focus on a few elements. Cultural Relations Committee Ireland. Wil . Once he saw that the days were getting longer again he realised that this was the natural cycle of the world, so celebrated. A’ wheest in the daurk we savour oor love.” Or so the story goes. Leave the lid on. There is no doubt the tree was held sacred by the people of the UK and beyond. Princes Risbororough, Shire. He was afraid that the world was returning to the chaos and emptiness that existed before creation, so he fasted. 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