The winners were the team who could drag the Yule log to their side of the town. This overindulgence kicked off the traditions of the Yuletide, the Yule feast and the Yule Log. In the town of Burghead, Moray, an ancient tradition called "burning the clavie" takes place each year on January 11. I am Scottish and this is how my mother taught me how to cook this traditional Scottish stuffing. The person who finds a trinket in their loaf will have good luck all year. Necromancy and the dead are very common in Scottish folk magic, which you can read more about here. 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. In some cases it had to burn continually from the 24th of December until Old Christmas Eve on the 5th of January. It was on this day that they ceremonially gathered mistletoe from oak trees. Though emphasising different elements of life and death and perhaps holding different levels of cultural importance in Scotland and England. 2nd ed. © #FolkloreThursday 2018 The Winter Solstice falls on the 21st of December. Drive out thought that is mean Christmas Traditions - a Scottish Christmas is very similar to Christmas throughout the world. light the new block, 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! The blazing yule-log was the crowning glory of the Scottish midwinter feast. After 20 mins you will have a nice brown brew with maybe a little oil floating on the surface. The huge Yule log was carried into the middle of town and ropes and chains attached. Will the Real Father Christmas Please Stand Up. Irish Christmas Blessings. In Norse mythology the sun is a wheel that changes the seasons and it was from the word for this wheel, houl, that the word yule comes from. The old wood was lit, then the new log was placed on top. As celebrations of saturnalia died away this evolved to become the pre-eminent winter festival, the date was eventually co-opted by Christians as the faith spread. and for good successe in spending Traditional medicine of the highlands and islands. The above is taken from the ‘Wife of Usher’s Well’, found in English and Scottish Popular Ballads, collected by Francis James Child. This precise alignment allows the light at the darkest point of the year to illuminate this spectacular house of the dead. She was deadly pale and wore clothes rustling like dry dead leaves. Here at Best Scottish Tours we love Christmas. Druids, the priestly class in ancient Celtic society, celebrated the festival of Alban Arthuan (also known as Yule) at the time of the Winter solstice. Some folk gently roast the twigs, which is said to make the brew a little sweeter. Not only for the light and warmth but also to keep alive a tradition with roots far deeper than any tree. Each took turns One of their traditions was the yule bread loaf. And Jenny to her wheel.” Plant lore is the verdant heart of Scottish folk holidays and traditions. To dream of pulling the ‘birk sae green’ portends death in the ballad, ‘The Braes o Yarrow’. The modern practice of gift giving evolved from the tradition of hanging gifts on the tree as offerings to various Gods and Goddesses. A wand ‘o bonny birk’ is laid on the breast of the dead in Sweet William’s Ghost. No content from this site may be used elsewhere without the permission of either #FolkloreThursday or the article author. It's also a time to celebrate with family and friends, and share the spirit of giving during the holidays. In the Highlands, the midwife would make sure the first thing a newborn ate was ash sap. Over a thousand years later, some Scottish festive traditions still bear reference to the Vikings and Yule. 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. Sometimes the log was decorated with evergreens and only brought into the house on Christmas Eve. In Irish (Gaelic) Nollaig Shona Duit means 'Happy Christmas to you.' Macculoch, J. Christmas is cancelled! This is so the ‘old fire and the new fire burn together’. Some suggest this replaced the proprietary sacrifice required at this time. You never have to put out the bins, queue for milk at the supermarket or worry about the … Whatever the exact origins of the rituals we practice this festive season, it does seem that there has been a growth of interest in traditional religions and practices. … Elements of Yuletide traditions in Scotland are the same in other Celtic countries, but Scotland has those particular to the country. Maeshowe is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave on Orkney. Traditional Scottish Christmas Gifts. Evil Spurn Traditions at this time of year maintain strong links with Viking and Gaelic celebrations of Yule time, or ‘Daft Days’ as they are known in Scotland. A gift demands a gift. 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. Others note if a tempest raged outside, folks would throw the saved part of the Yule log on the fire, to calm it. We coorie thegither, my wife an’ I, Beare. I have to say I don't think we make as much of this as I think we should. 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. 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. Cover with a lid and decoct, simmering for around 20 mins. Much of our current festive tradition actually originates with pagan solstice customs, such as decorating the Yule tree. Rather than write out the entire process you can find a great recipe here from the fantastic forager Robin Harford, based in Galloway. Ash and human birth are linked in many ways. Christmas Special: Highland Yule Traditions. Keeping Christmas cake or the remains of the Yule Log under the bed was also thought to help get rid of chilblains. Come while the log is tending. Scottish people celebrate Christmas by drawing on plenty of other traditions found across countries in Europe and the West. #FolkloreThursday 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, United Kingdom, WC1N 3AX. 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 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. 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. 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. Divination was once a popular custom. 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. If you didn’t, the cattle would suffer come the following year, or so folk believed. As soon as the Yule log stopped burning it was back to the bad cider. Instead, the habit of visiting each other’s houses on 26 th December has continued, without hunting small birds! Both of these are traditions we have borrowed from the North. This idea is reflected in names like Nollaig mhòr, ‘Big Christmas’ – given to Christmas Day – and Nollag bheag, ‘Little Christmas’ or ‘New Year’s Day’. 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. See more ideas about yule, yule traditions, yuletide. One thing we do in our household to mark the solstice is quite simple and involves making Yule bread. ‘When the Yule log Crackles’ – Francis Kerr Young. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email, Your definitive online guide helping you find the perfect accommodation, restaurant, activity, local produce, attraction & more in the Highlands of Scotland. Containing descriptions of their scenery and Antiquities. 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. True Highlands9 St Valery PlaceUllapoolIV26 2TD, | site map | website design, development & SEO – twofentons, Burghead Chambered Well, Moray, was discovered in, The recent full moon meant Gavin McWhirter got thi, This last 12 months has been difficult for #touris, The smell of peat burning in winter is truly evoca, Our advertisers are small, independent businesses, This website uses cookies to ensure the best user experience. It was believed it would conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year. Do you have a subject you would like us to cover, well just drop us a line and we’ll see what we can do. The tree had to be gathered secretly from someone’s garden without them noticing or knowing. Sprinkle it with a libation of ale before setting light to it in your fireplace or outside. At one time guisers were as common at New Year as they were at Halloween. Our aim is to showcase the best the Scottish Highlands & Islands has to offer. On Christmas … In the northern hemisphere, this date marks the turning point of the season, the shortest day and the longest night. Scottish Christmas traditions Working on Christmas Day is now a distant memory for lots of Scots, but there are other old traditions that people still hold onto. Penzance. Did the entry of the sun represent rebirth, or a fertility rite of some sort? A Pudding known as Clootie dumpling is a traditional Christmas dessert in Scotland; children eat it … 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. The tradition of the Yule log is also practiced in Scotland at Christmas time. A’ wheest in the daurk we savour oor love.” Christmas swim. A contest between Northenders and Southenders would then start, each team tugging and pulling their side. The tradition of the Yule log began in Celtic times when it was believed that the sun stood still for 12 days during winter. Traditionally the Yule bannock and other dishes should be cooked over the heat from the Yule log burning in the hearth throughout the festive time. 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. Celebrations have evolved and changed, but the date of the solstice remains fixed. Yule Cleansing Ritual. How One Scottish Town Revived a Local Tradition After 80 Years The “Stromness Yule Log Pull” is officially back. 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. “Yule’s come and yule’s gane Rising up out of the scrub of birch and oak, it drifted up to lonely travellers so fast they could not escape. It is pronounced no-leg show-na ditch. This was a time when the ordinary rules were turned upside down. In Somerset, there is a legend where ‘the one with the white hand’ (a birch it is believed) was a spirit haunting Taunton Moorland. This bizarre celebration takes place on the first day of the New Year. So, if there is a specifically "Scottish" aspect to Christmas it is that it was not celebrated! Ash has so much folklore surrounding it; it’s hard just to focus on a few elements. (1890) Cornish Feasts and Folklore. Christmas Gifts for Him In the later Roman Empire his birthday was celebrated on December 25. Courtney, M.A. There is no doubt the tree was held sacred by the people of the UK and beyond. There are many perks to being a member of the Royal Family. With the advent of Christianity, the Yule log tradition continued, albeit on a smaller scale. Shamrock – national flower of Ireland . The ballad alludes to ‘wearing a birch hat,’ – a metaphor for death and the dead. Company registered in England & Wales, no. 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. There are traditional Christmas trees (most likely Scots pines), adorned with all kinds of shiny and twinkling stuff. The ancient Romans also held a solstice festival at this time, called Saturnalia, to celebrate the rebirth of the year. Ó’Súlleabhàin, S. Irish folk custom and belief. Christmas Traditions in Scotland 20th December 2020. Later, a last piece of Yule log would be saved to light next year's fire. Cultural Relations Committee Ireland. Other traditional names for the season allude to the light it brings to hearth and home such as Oidhche Choinnle , ‘Candle Night’. 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. On farms in 18th century Norfolk the best cider was served only as long as the Yule log burnt. Birch is equally associated with protection and fertility. Let your heart be made clean Bake some Yule bannocks. 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. One of the Scottish Christmas traditions that was banned for many years was the baking of Yule bread. Or so the story goes. 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. 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. 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. 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 … If you’d like to help keep #FolkloreThursday going, do check out our Patreon page to pledge a small monthly amount to tell us you think #FolkloreThursday is great! The Saturnalia eventually degenerated into a week-long spree of debauchery and crime which was ultimately unsustainable. For communities, this time of year was all about the feast, propitiation and divination and a rest from work. If you didn't keep your fire burning continually, unwanted spirits would supposedly come down the fireplace and into your home, bringing bad luck. 11022198. Ash has long been associated with protection from witchcraft and the Devil. Calderwood recorded that in 1545, a few months before his murder, Cardinal Beaton had "passed over the Christmasse dayes with games and feasting". It was also the Druidic priests who maintained the tradition of the yule log. In Scotland, before the arrival of Christianity, on the solstice, Celtic priests would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. That side of the town would then supposedly ‘hold the luck’ for the year. This Yuletide maybe bring a little of the protective magic of birch and ash into your home. Traditions in Scotland at this time of year have strong links with Gaelic and even Viking Yule time celebrations … also called ‘Daft Days’ in Scotland, probably due in part to the consumption of whisky. In Stromness, Orkney, up until 1936, a tug of war would ensue over the biggest Yule log. Regardless of the type of tree burnt, folks would ensure they kept a piece of the burnt Yule log throughout the year that followed. When stripped of its bark, the birk, or birch, was dried for burning over the Yules. In this episode, Annie and Jenny take a festive Yuletide jaunt around Christmas time traditions in Scotland. Scottish Traditions Yule. One is for birch twig tea, the other for pickled ash keys. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking. 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. ‘When the hallow days o Yule were come Master and servant alike would drink from the good stock. A toast would be raised to the snapping of bands, and the festivities would continue. Amazingly, this dour, joy-crushing attitude lasted for 400 years. In Ireland, the yule-log was called the bloc na Nollaig, or Christmas block. Along with the Yule celebrations, there are various superstitions linked with the festival that represented the renewal of life, good and ill omens. by Catherine Bentley | Dec 17, 2015 | Fascinating Facts, History & Folklore. Christmas Special: Highland Yule Traditions In this episode, Annie and Jenny take a festive Yuletide jaunt around Christmas time traditions in Scotland. These standing stones date from about 3,000 years BC and, although academics still argue about their precise purpose, there is no questioning the powerful pull they have. (Interestingly a figure of a man was chalked in a similar fashion in Cornwall). Each took turns: singing and toasting to a great Yule. There are a couple of ideas I’d like to share with you. Historians believe that many fascinating Hogmanay customs and traditions have their roots in pagan festivals such as the Norse Winter Solstice, the Viking Yule, and the Gaelic Samhain. In Somerset, folk placed part of the left over Yule log in the byre to create good fortune for calf rearing. Nowadays at this time of year it is normal that people’s attention turns to celebrating Christmas, however, the ritual and history surrounding the solstice in this country and all over Europe, predate the arrival of Christianity by thousands of years and many festive celebrations have been adapted from much earlier traditions. The dead would come a knocking at Yule time. During the ban, bakers were required to give the authorities the name of anyone requesting this holiday staple. Sol Invictus (“The Unconquered Sun”) was originally a Syrian deity, who was adopted as the chief of the Roman gods. It was celebrated in much the same way as it was across Catholic Europe, with games, gifts and feasts. Edinburgh. Even after Charles II was restored to the throne, celebrating Christmas was frowned upon in Scotland for a long time – it wasn’t until 1958 that 25 December became a Scottish public holiday. Or was it simply a calendar to remind the islands ancient inhabitants that the darkest time of the year had passed and that the light was once again returning? Your Privacy, Scott Richardson-Read lives in the Scottish Borders, deep inside Reiver territory under the shadow of ancient forest overlooked by the sacred Eildon Hills. 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!). If you would like to submit a blog post we welcome these from True Highlands members, so get listed! To folk in Scotland however,  the period over Christmas was once known as the Yules, a time of extended feasting and celebration. Once he saw that the days were getting longer again he realised that this was the natural cycle of the world, so celebrated. Christmas spirit, a potent blend of being kind and nice to others, is what we require the most now. One of the Scottish Christmas traditions that was banned for so many years included the baking of Yule bread. – Popular Rhymes in Scotland. You need a small handful for one cup. Charity to others in the community was also a big part of Yule. 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. From tourist attractions, days out, shopping and a great place to stay, you’ll find it all here. Not only does this help the over-all fitness of the Nation but helps raise valuable amounts for good causes. Yule is Germanic in origin but seems to have made its way west to the English-speaking lands over the centuries and been absorbed by Christian culture. We are a small company based in the heart of the Highlands with infinite local knowledge to enable us to help you plan where to stay and play! The following two tabs change content below. Until the 1960s, Christmas Day was a normal working day for most people in Scotland. In a way, this serves a purpose not completely divorced from the original intentions. First Footing After the stroke of midnight, neighbors visit each other, bearing traditional symbolic … A huge thank you to all of our official sponsors, and everyone who pledges to keep #FolkloreThursday running! This bizarre celebration takes place on the first day of the New Year. Original intentions ready for drinking by Catherine Bentley | Dec 17, 2015 | Fascinating Facts, &. R. ( 1870 ) Popular Rhymes of Scotland seaweed may be used instead of rowan Christmas it that... Tree ( heder ) would protect against scottish yule traditions witches rustling like dry dead leaves death! 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