Scottish Holidays

  • JANUARY
    • Hogmanany - The New Year's celebration in Scotland where friends and neighbors visit one another in the wee hours of the morning. It may be the largest holiday of the year. One of the traditions is First Footing which says that for the family to have luck and prosperity during the coming year, the first foot into the house should be a dark, handsome man carrying shortbread, coal, salt, a black bun, and whiskey. Many families exchange gifts called hogmanays after midnight on New Year's Eve. Traditionally Black Bun is served. For more information:
      1. National Geographic - Scots Mark New Year With Fiery Ancient Rites.
      2. Hogmanay - New Year's in Scotland
      3. Christmas in Scotland (contains Hogmanay information)

    • Burns night - The life of the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns is celebrated on January 25th, the day of his birth in 1759. The first recorded Burns supper was held five years after his death in 1796 in Alloway, his birth place. A group of his friends gathered in July 1901 to celebrate his life. Many of the traditions that continue in today’s Burn’s night celebrations were started at that supper, including serving haggis, reciting “Address to a Haggis”, and of course, toasts with fine whiskey. Rampant Scotland has a fine page about Burns Night

  • APRIL
    • Tartan Day - April 6th. Begun in Canada in the 1980s, since 1998 it has been celebrated in the United States. Every year there is a major parade and activities in Manhattan, Washington, D. C. and several states. On March 9, 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 41 recognizing National Tartan Day. For more information:
      1. The Tartan Day Site
      2. Scotland Week's Coverage of the Tartan Day Parade
      3. National Tartan Day on FaceBook

  • MAY
    • Beltane's Day - This pre-Christian holiday includes rituals and festivals to encourage crops to grow that year. On May 1st young girls rise early to wash their faces in the morning dew and bonfires are lit. The custom of lighting fires at this time has come through in place names such as Tarbolton in Ayrshire ("tor" meaning hill and "bolton" from "Beltane").

  • AUGUST
    • Loaf Mass Day - August 1. In pre-Christian days the Scots celebrated Lammas with a Celtic feast know as Lugnasaid. With the rise of Christianity it became a day when the first fruits of the harvest were given to the local clergy and bread was baked with the new grain. While it isn't celebrated through most of Scotland today, in St. Andrew's it is still celebrated with a five-day festival featuring an open air market, food and drink, concerts and dances. This Lammas street fair may be the oldest surviving medieval street fair. In 2012 it takes place August 9-14. The St. Andrews Lammas Page

  • OCTOBER

  • NOVEMBER
    • Martinmas - November 11th. Traditionally this was the day when rents and contracts came due. Celebrated on the feast of St. Martin of Tours, it was a time to kill cattle and make special foods for the feast, including haggis, black pudding and almond horseshoe cakes. This preceded the beginning of the 40 days of reflection and pennace of Advent.

    • St. Andrew's Day - (Scots: Saunt Andra's Day, Scottish Gaelic: Latha Naomh Anndra), November 30th. This day honors the Patron Saint of Scotland, in honor of a Pictish victory in battle in 747 A.D. It wasn't until 2006 that it was designated an official bank holiday by the Scottish Parliament.

  • DECEMBER
    • Christmas - December 25. Merry Christmas is Scottish Gaelic is Nollaig Chridheil (pronounced nollik hree-el). In 1560 the Protestant reformers banned celebrating Christmas. For many years the Presbyterian Church of Scotland continued to discourage large celebrations. Houses are often decorated with holly, evergreen and tartan. Christmas cards are said to have been invented in Edinburgh in the mid-nineteenth century. After the end of World War I, it again became an important holiday. A traditional Christmas pudding or Christmas Cake is often served. For more information:
      1. Holidays around the world, http://www.msichicago.org/scrapbook/scrapbook_exhibits/catw2006/traditions/countries/scotland.html

      2. Scottish Christmas Traditions http://christmas.lovetoknow.com/Scottish_Christmas_Traditions

    • Boxing Day - December 26. Another day on which gifts were exchanged. It’s origins go back to the days when the Lord and Lady of the Castle distributed gifts to their staff who had worked hard on Christmas day.

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