Outdoors

  • Aberdeen Rowie

    The buttery, which is also known as a rowie or Aberdeen roll, is basically a bread roll, characterised by a flaky texture and buttery taste. They are often eaten toasted with jam/butter As the alternate name of Aberdeen roll suggests, butteries are a speciality of Aberdeen but they are actually common throughout the North East of Scotland and can be found in Elgin. They were created in the 1880s, to provide the growing Aberdeen fishing industry a type of high-fat roll which would keep for longer perio... Read More

  • Aberlour Highland Games

    Taking place on the first Saturday of August, is Aberlour Highland Games. Set in an idyllic setting, on the banks of the Spey, in the beautiful little village of Aberlour, the Games attract more than 5,000 visitors annually. An afternoon celebrating all things Scottish. Including the usual Heavy Weight events, Track & Field, Highland dancing, and performances from a number of pipe bands. You can even take part in a 'Haggis Hurling Competition' Great day out for all the family. ... Read More

  • Beltane Festival

    Beltane is an ancient Gaelic holiday celebrated around 1 May, historically celebrated in Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. It is a fire festival that celebrates the coming of summer and the renewed fertility of the coming year.The festival survives in folkloric practices in these nations (and the diaspora), and has experienced a degree of revival in recent decades, not only in the British Isles, but also in countries further afield such as the USA. The word Beltane is thought to have derived from a Gae... Read More

  • Black House Renovation

    The 'Black House' is a style of house that used to be common in certain parts of Scotland, particularly in the Hebrides and parts of the Highlands (and also in Ireland). Their construction is characterised by double wall dry-stone walls packed with earth and wooden rafters covered with a thatch of turf with cereal straw or reed. Perhaps inevitably, most dwellings fell into disrepair as people moved into more modern housing. However, recent years has seen a trend towards restoration of many of the original h... Read More

  • Blackening

    This is a ritual usually perpetrated upon a soon to be married man before his wedding, but in some places (see above example from Kirkwall in Orkney) carried out by and on females! Workmates and friends organise and carry these out. More widely this involves the soon-to-be-married man being caught, stripped of much of his clothing (at least to the waist) and tied up. He is then 'blackened' (traditionally with tar, soot or sometimes treacle) then covered also with flour and/or (traditionally) feathers. He is... Read More

  • Bonspiel

    A bonspiel is a curling tournament (curling: two teams of four players compete by ‘throwing’ two granite curling stones each). It is traditionally held on a frozen loch (lake) and can last 2 or 3 days over a weekend. As a result of milder winters and the requirement that the ice should be at least 7 inches thick for safety reasons, these outdoor games now rarely take place. The word may be a combination of both Scots and Gaelic - ‘spiel’ is northern European (to which Scots is related) for ‘play... Read More

  • Bridie

    A bridie or Forfar bridie is a Scottish type of meat pastry or pie, originally from the town of Forfar, reminiscent of a Cornish pasty, but made without potato! The bridie is made of minced beef, sometimes with onions and spices, placed on rolled-out pastry and folded into a semi-circular shape, and then baked in an oven. Forfar bakers traditionally use shortcrust pastry but similar products on flaky pastry or puff pastry are occasionally found. Traditionally the contents of the bridie are indicated by the ... Read More

  • Burning of the Clavie

    A pagan fire festival called the burning of the clavie is held on 11 January each year, except when the 11th is a Sunday, in which case it takes place on the 10th. The event starts when the Clavie is lit on Granary street at 18:00 and normally ends by 19:30. The tradtion, dating back to at least the 17th century, occurs on this date because, following the adoption of the gregorian calendar,the 'Auld Yuil' [al il] (Old Yule) was therefore celebrated 12 days after the 1 January and the clavie burning was on t... Read More

  • Burry Man of South Queensferry

    The Burryman or Burry Man is the central figure in an annual procession which takes place on the second Friday in August in South Queensferry, north of Edinburgh, on the south bank of the Firth of Forth. The custom is associated with, but separate from, the town's Ferry Fair. The meaning and origins of this ceremony are now unclear. The Burry Man himself is a local man almost completely covered, as the image illustrates, in sticky burrs, leaving only the shoes, hands and two eye holes exposed. On the day, h... Read More

  • Callander Highland Games

    This is a two day Highland Games which includes strongest man competition, women's caber tossing. police tug of war, dog show and battle re-inactments ... Read More

  • Chinese New Year

    The Chinese community in Scotland, originating from both Mainland China and Hong Kong, numbers just over 10,000 people with the most significant population in Glasgow. Charing Cross and Garnethill are two areas of Glasgow that have become Scotland’s Chinatown. Like other Chinese communities worldwide, the Scottish Chinese have their own New Year celebrations, which have now become a significant feature of the Scottish winter cultural calendar, particularly in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Organisations such as t... Read More

  • Choosing It

    Below are two examples of traditional playground games in East Renfrewshire: Choosing It When playing a game where one person needs to be 'it' or 'on' a chant or rhyme in combination with pointing is often used to make the selection random and therefore fair. Ingle-angle All players put one foot in the middle, toes touching. The person calling chants: Ingle-angle-silver-spangle-ingle-angle A B C D… and so on through the alphabet. For each word or letter they touch... Read More

  • Clootie / Cloutie Wells

    ‘Cloutie’ or ‘Clootie’ wells are the name given to wells/springs, usually with a tree growing in close proximity, where strips of cloth and rags are left as part of a traditional healing ritual. They have been described as ‘… a survival of the age-old veneration of life-giving springs. Those suffering from illness hung a rag by the spring in the hope that their disease would decay along with the rag.’ ( www.walkhighlands.co.uk/lochness/Ormondcastle.shtml ) There are several of these still i... Read More

  • Cockenzie and Port Seton Gala

    Cockenzie and Port Seton Gala day is held annually on a Saturday at the end of May/beginning of June. Floats carrying fancy dress contestants and local Primary School children selected to be ‘the court’: ‘Queen’, ‘Ladies in waiting’, 'Queen’s Escort’ and assorted followers. All move off in a parade through the villages of Port Seton and Cockenzie starting at the Port Seton Centre. The first stop on the route is to lay a wreath at the local war memorial on the green. The parade then contin... Read More

  • Comet Festival

    The Comet Festival takes place in Port Glasgow once a year to commemorate the launch of the Comet. The Comet was the first passenger carrying steamship in Europe. The festival has been part of the Port Glasgow community since 1986 when a group of local people were looking for ways of restoring some pride in the area in an effort to lift morale in the community. This lead to the idea of putting on an event where the community could get involved and enjoy came about. Originally intended to be a one day event,... Read More

  • Comrie Flambeaux

    As the bells ring out on Hogmanay people line the streets of the Perthshire village of Comrie to watch their annual procession welcoming in the New Year. A pipe band leads marchers carrying flaming torches (made of long thick birch poles with tarred rags tied to the top) who are followed by the fancy dress parade. At the end of the proceedings the torches are thrown over the Dalginross Bridge into the River Earn (traditionally believed to cast out of evil). Everyone then gets on with another more widespread... Read More

  • Dookin' for Apples

    Dookin' for apples normally takes place in a large bucket of water. Around a dozen apples are allowed to float around the surface and the player tries to pull out an apple using only their mouth. A clever player may try and align their mouth with an apple stalk to remove it from the water otherwise the player has to try and take a bite of the apple whilst removing it from the bucket. If a player takes too long they may find their own head being dooked into the bucket by those waiting for their own turn and ... Read More

  • Dragon Boat Racing

    Four boats raced at part of series of events, organised as part of China Now in Scotland, which raised funds to support the Tayside Chinese Community Centre and Dundee Chinese school. There are many Dragon boat races that take place throughout Scotland. On May 30th 2010, Consul General Tan Xiutian attended the Dragon Boat Race at the invitation of Dumfries and Galloway's Provost, Jack Groom. The event was organised by the city Council and Rotary Club with strong support from the local Chinese Community. (so... Read More

  • Eaglesham Fair

    This biennial fair seems to have its origins in several fairs and shows dating back to the 17th century. In 1672, after a successful petition to the Scottish Parliament by the 8th Earl of Eglinton, an act was passed authorising a yearly fair on the 24th April as well as a weekly market in the kirk toun of Eaglesham. The kirk toun was gaining in importance as the centre for a scattered community of around 126 ferm touns. The act mentions that Eaglesham was an ideal place for a fair and market due to the f... Read More

  • Edinburgh Festival

    The Edinburgh Festival is a collective term for various simultaneous arts and cultural festivals which take place during August and early September each year in Edinburgh. These festivals are arranged by a number of formally unrelated organisations, meaning that there is no single event officially termed the Edinburgh Festival. The oldest festivals are the Edinburgh International Festival, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, both of which started in 1947. Other more recent additions include the Military Tat... Read More

  • Edinburgh Festival Fringe

    Since it started in 1947, as an alternative to the Edinburgh International Festival, 'The Fringe' has grown to become the world's largest arts festival. The festival covers a wide range of arts, including theatre, comedy, dance, physical theatre. opera and others. The Fringe runs for approximately three weeks in August.... Read More

  • Edinburgh Mela

    Mela is a sanskrit word meaning ‘gathering’ and is used to describe festivals in the Indian subcontinent.The Scottish Mela festivals are multicultural arts festivals that, while having their roots in South Asian culture, can now best be seen as celebrating wide diversity of cultural life in Scotland, featuring dance, music, crafts, food and fashion, not just from South Asia, but from all over the world. There are two annual Mela festivals in Scotland: one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh. Edinburgh Me... Read More

  • Egg rolling at Easter

    Method: using boiled eggs, wait until these have cooled down, and then paint. The decorated eggs are then taken to a gentle hill (or other appropriate place) and "rolled". The rolling of the egg symbolises the rolling away of the stone from Jesus' tomb at Easter. Although as a kid and from years of experience with my own children the symbolism is lost as they munch though a mound of chocolate. Our local hill is always littered with eggs and shells and serves as a feast for the local wildlife. Chocolate ... Read More

  • Elastics

    I was speaking to my niece recently, age 8, and she mentioned that she plays elastics with her friends and it brought back a lot of memories. It was one of my favourite games when I was at primary school. You play by tying elastic bands together to make a large loop of elastic. It is a game for three people, although I used to practice a lot in the house using chair legs when there were no other friends around. Two players stand inside the loop so they are stretching it relatively taught around their ankles... Read More

  • Ferry Fair Edinburgh

    As the fair's website states, Queensferry’s annual Fair has been held in its present form since 1930, when it was revived after some years of absence as a regular event. But its roots date back even further for permission to hold the event was originally granted by King Charles 1 back in the year 1687. The Fair is a week-long event and is organised primarily as a festival of sports and entertainments for the children of the burgh, culminating in the crowning of a Ferry Fair Queen who is chosen from the ch... Read More

  • Fish supper

    The 'Fish Supper' consists of fish (commonly haddock in Scotland) deep fried in batter with chips purchased from a 'Chip shop'. It is traditionally served wrapped first in brown paper, then in newspaper in order that the food should retain its heat on the customer's journey home. This is more than a foodstuff in Scotland - it is truly a tradition. The traditional question from the Chip Shop proprietor to the customer on serving the delicacy: 'Anyhin oan it?' can be met with the reply,'Sauce an salt' i... Read More

  • Fishermen's Ganseys

    Fishermen have been wearing ganseys (Guernseys) since about the start of the 17th Century - the design is said to have been developed in the Isle of Guernsey, just the same way that the term jersey originated from the neighbouring Channel Island of Jersey. Ganseys were knitted in un-oiled, soft, round, dark-blue 4 ply wool on four size 14 needles to make a firm, close fabric that was almost wind and waterproof. They were one-piece garments. A split had to be made at the underarm, the back and the front t... Read More

  • Fishermen's Superstitions - Cockenzie and Port Seton

    While fewer of the younger generation of fishermen adhere to these, some still feel it is bad luck to mention certain birds, fish and animals either on their boats,at home, or at all. In the fishing villages of Cockenzie Port Seton near Edinburgh these include swans, salmon, pigs and rats. Instead, fishermen will refer to a 'red fish' (salmon), a 'curly tail' (pig) and a 'long tail' (rat). One man in Port Seton was overheard asking the shop assistant in the local 'store' for matches and "not the ones wit... Read More

  • Fishing Superstitions

    Perhaps because of the hazards of their occupation or their mutual reliance, fishing communities developed their own unique customs and folklore. They were tight-knit and conservative and their names, food and mode of life were different from the surrounding population. Even between different fishing villages there was often rivalry and it was rare for them to marry outwith their own community. Because of the dangerous nature of their work, they were unusually superstitious. Thus there were words conside... Read More

  • Ganseys

    The navy blue wool Gansey sweater, along with navy blue trousers was the traditional ‘uniform’ of fisherman in the Cockenzie and Port Seton villages of East Lothian and in many other fishing communities around Britain. There are variations in pattern – families often handing down their own pattern through the generations, mother to daughter - but many featuring traditional motifs such as rope. Wives incorporated in each sweater an element unique to each so that they could identify bodies washed ashore... Read More

  • Glasgow Mela

    Background : Mela is a sanskrit word meaning ‘gathering’ and is used to describe festivals in the Indian subcontinent.The Scottish Mela festivals are multicultural arts festivals that, while having their roots in South Asian culture, can now best be seen as celebrating wide diversity of cultural life in Scotland, featuring dance, music, crafts, food and fashion, not just from South Asia, but from all over the world. There are two annual Mela festivals in Scotland: one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh. ... Read More

  • Glasgow West End Festival

    Starting in 1996, the West End Festival has grown to become a two week long celebration of music, comedy, drama, outdoor theatre and many other activities in the city's West End. A collection of photographs from the 2009 festival can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/garlies/sets/72157619704317203/... Read More

  • Glasgow's Travelling Showpeople Community

    " Travelling Showpeople opened Glasgow's first cinemas, operated the rides and stalls at the annual Kelvin Hall Winter Fair and Glasgow Green. As the winter base for over 80% of Scottish show families, Glasgow has the largest concentration of Showpeople in Europe. Yet the unique traditions and histories of this tight-knit community are still unknown to most of the Scottish public." The quote above was taken from a publication that was produced as part of the Fair Glasgow project. This project was initia... Read More

  • Golden Spurtle Competition

    The annual World Porridge Making Championships take place in Carrbridge, a small village in the Invernessshire. The competition (organised by the Carrbridge and Vicinity Community Council) in its 17th year will take place on 'World Porridge Day', Sunday 10th October 2010. For more information on the event go to the Golden Spurtle website at http://www.goldenspurtle.com/. Watch an excellent short film of the 2009 Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship (Carrbridge Films) at http://www.youtube.com/c... Read More

  • Grand March

    The Grand March is still occasionally performed - to the accompaniment of bagpipes or (in places such as Shetland and Orkne)a band - as the first 'dance' at a Scottish wedding. Strictly, more of a march than a dance it is led by the bride and groom followed by the maid of honour (chief bridesmaid) and best man then both sets of parents followed by the wedding guests. Variations may continue elsewhere in Scotland ... Read More

  • Granny Kempock Stone

    The megalithic Kempock Stone, popularly known as Granny Kempock (perhaps because of its resemblance to an old woman), stands on a cliff behind Kempock Street, the main shopping street in Gourock, Scotland. The stone, or menhir, is grey mica schist and of indeterminate origin, but it has been suggested that it is an old altar to the pagan god Baal, or a memorial to an ancient battle. Supposedly there is a superstition that for sailors going on a long voyage or a couple about to be married, walking seven time... Read More

  • Guising

    Guising is the term given to the Scottish/Irish Halloween tradition of children going from house to house in the neighborhood in disguise (hence the term) and collecting food treats from the neighbors. The Scottish tradition of 'guising' can be traced back to Samhuinn where people would use masks and decorations to disguise themselves and scare away evil spirits. Also see Hallow'een traditions ... Read More

  • Hallow'een

    allowe'en (Halloween ), celebrated on October 31 derives from the Celtic festival Samhuinn. Children go around peoples' houses (traditionally in costumes or fancy dress), asking for sweets or money although some still (voluntarily or otherwise) perform a song, dance or tell a joke in order to deserve the householder's contribution. Money used to be saved towards buying fireworks for another celebration on 5th November, Guy Fawkes Night. American influence and marketing in recent years has seen this incre... Read More

  • Hawick Common Riding

    Hawick is the first of the Border Common-Ridings or festivals commemorating the custom of riding the boundaries of each parish or ‘march’. It also commemorates the townsmen’s capture of an English Flag in the early 16th century. The main Riding part of the festivities takes place over a Friday and Saturday in June. The lead figure is an elected ‘Cornet’, a young local man who carries out several ‘ride-outs’ in the area over the weeks preceding the main ‘common riding’ event with his suppor... Read More

  • Heart of Midlothian

    The Heart of Midlothian is a stone mosaic built into the cobbled street outside of St Giles near George IV Bridge marks the spot where the old Tolbooth, or town prison used to stand. Some local people continue the tradition of spitting on the Heart when walking past for good luck. See video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32H9WORvpj0 ... Read More

  • Hen Nights

    Females about to be married are sometimes dressed up by their female work colleagues in a Bridal veil, balloons, flowers, streamers and "L" plates, and traditionally made to carry a chamber pot full of salt (sometimes with little dolls and other tokens stuck in) paraded through the streets to invite kisses from male passers-by (traditionally for a donation of money into the ‘potty’). This is still done, but has more commonly turned into a night-out for the prospective bride, her female friends and relat... Read More

  • Herring Queen Festival

    Eyemouth’s local Herring Queen Festival takes place in July every year. Started ‘to celebrate the end of the First World War’ it also ‘aims to symbolise the ideals as well as the everyday things associated with the life of a fishing community’ and developed out of the older Peace or Fisherman's ‘Picnic', an annual celebration which ‘came to be looked upon as a local holiday for the fishermen of the town and all connected with their calling. The Festival in modern times focuses around local chi... Read More

  • Islay Pipe Band

    The Isle of Islay in the Inner Hebrides has a long tradition of pipe music. For almost two decades, the Islay Piping Society has been a significant feature of this longstanding musical heritage. Although history shows the formation of a pipe band in the early 1950’s, it wasn’t until 1992 that islanders decided to start the current Islay Pipe Band, which was then formed and registered with the Royal Pipe Band Association in Glasgow. The band - which holds regular weekly practices- plays at numerous local... Read More

  • Jedburgh Ba' Game

    The ba' game is essentially a form of street football, some of the action taking place in the streets around the market place shown in the picture above. Today the game is played at Candlemas and Easter E'en by two opposing teams. The ancient ball game known as 'Jethart Hand-ba', popular throughout medieval Scotland, supposedly derives from the Jedburgh men playing with the heads of English soldiers. The traditional ball game, which has been played in the Border town for 250 years, pits the Uppies (resident... Read More

  • Johnstone Festival

    This festival originated in the late 1800s, and today is a fun day out, free of charge, for the local area. A 'queen' is chosen by local people voting in a competition run through the local newspaper. Duties of the queen are to declare the festival open, visit all stalls in the park and also oversee the stage productions. There are vintage fire engines, community stalls, organised games, and a full programme of musical acts performed by music groups, school choirs, dance groups etc. And last but not least, ... Read More

  • Kirkintilloch Canal Festival

    Celebrating its tenth year, the Canal Festival welcomed over 25,000 visitors to a variety of venues across the town, who enjoyed a full programme of live music, heritage displays, arts and crafts stalls, a Farmers Market, funfairs, boat trips and a variety of waterside entertainment at the Southbank Marina. The Festival kicked-off on Saturday evening at Kirkintilloch’s Southbank Marina, where a programme of live music saw headliners the Glasgow Gospel Choir and Samba Ya Bamba joined by Itchycoo Park and l... Read More

  • Kirkwall Ba' Game

    One of a small number of such games still existing in Scotland, the Kirkwall ba' game takes place twice a year: Christmas Eve and Hogmanay. Its historical origins are unclear, but, in essence, it is a game of mass-football, played up and down the streets of the town centre, of the type that was once quite common in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK. It pits the 'uppies' against the 'doonies' (or 'up the gates' against 'down the gates'). The ba' itself is a hand-made, cork-filled leather ball. The allegieanc... Read More

  • Lanimer Day

    One of the conditions of Lanark being granted a Royal charter by King David I - thus becoming a Royal Burgh - was that the Burgesses of the town were required to examine their ‘March’ or boundaries every year and report back to the Crown. Lanark has carried this out every year since 1140, developing the ‘Land Marches’ into an annual celebration, "The Lanimers". The Monday evening marches (formerly done on horseback) now draw crowds of people. A Lord Cornet (the Standard Bearer) is chosen every ye... Read More

  • Lilias Day

    Lilias Day is a Kilbarchan festival said to be named after Lilias Cuninghame, daughter of an 18th century laird. In the past, Lilias Day was celebrated with a cattle market and races, with a procession through the village of men from different trades banging drums and waving flags. The Lilias Day tradition died out at the end of the 19th century, but has been restored in recent years. Nowadays the village is decorated with flags and there is a fancy dress parade which includes a Festival Queen and her ma... Read More

  • Marymass Irvine

    Marymass is a festival in Irvine, dating back to the Middle Ages, the modern version of which dates from the 1920s. It was originally associated with the Virgin Mary (rather than Mary Queen of Scots, as is often supposed). The modern version, organised by the local council and Irvine Carters Society, features many activities around the town, and established a Marymass Queen with her 'four Marys' (who are the queen's ladies in waiting- this part does seem to consciously refer back to the time of Mary Queen ... Read More

  • Masons' Walk at Rosehearty

    Natives of Rosehearty are drawn back to the town for this annual march, doubling its population for the day. 100 to 150 Masons take part, mostly from the local Masonic 'Lodge' but with representatives from other Lodges. The 'Walk' starts from the Lodge and progresses along the route through the town's streets arranged in order of: the March 'Marshall' and Director of Ceremonies followed by the bible bearer with sword bearers, the Pipe Band,junior and senior Deacons, ordinary Lodge members then Lodge Office-... Read More

  • May Day Face Washing, Arthur's Seat

    Some people still get up early enough on May Day (1st of May) to climb Arthur's Seat - the extinct volcano at the centre of Hoyrood Park, Edinburgh - to wash their faces in the morning dew as the sun rises. It was believed that this would bring females eternal beauty.... Read More

  • MILLER'S SHOWPEOPLE HISTORY

    Miller's Family had started doing their Fairgrounds since 19th Century, the man named Christopher Miller were originally came from Horley near Gatwick at Surrey, he began to travel with the Circus around the Country including Belfast, Northern Ireland, on arrival he had a good company of artistics and staff and over 30 Horses and over £300 in hard cash. One night some very valuable horses were poisoned and this threw Christopher into grave financial difficulties and other horses died from want of prope... Read More

  • Musselburgh Festival

    In 1935 a group of local people decided to start an 'Honest Toun' (Musselburgh) Association and annual festival which would reflect but not detract from Musselburgh's traditional Riding of the Marches. Each year an Honest Lad and Lass are elected from several nominees representing local wards and these carry out the traditional duties of the Honest Lad and Lass, leading or being the key figures in the events which make up the festival. Musselburgh's annual festival comprises several events including: ... Read More

  • Neilston Cattle Show

    The Neilston Cattle Show takes place annually on the 1st Saturday in May and brings together the entire community of this East Renfrewshire village. The first show took place in 1825 and its origins are in the cattle fairs which took place in the village several times a year. However, there are also two recorded explanations for it. The first is that two local farmers were having a dispute over who had the best prize bull. This turned into a contest to be judged by other local farmers and this in turn be... Read More

  • New Year - coastal/sea

    In coastal areas, both boats in harbour and tankers offshore sound their horns at midnight to mark the start of the New Year on 31st December. This is also marked by the ringing of church bells (such as those of the Tron Kirk in Edinburgh's High Street or Royal Mile) onland. ... Read More

  • Orkney Yole

    The Orkney Yole is a small boat, possibly of Nordic ancestry built, primarily, for cargo-carrying duties. According to the Orkney Yole Association website, the yole may vary in length from about 13' to 22', but is more generally about 18' long by 7' or 8' of beam and draws about 2'. Variations occur according to the builder but there are two main categories - the North Isles Yole and the South Isles Yole. While the yole was once a central part of the economic life of Orkney, this has- perhaps inevitably- be... Read More

  • Penicuik Hunter and Lass Festival

    Penicuik's week of festivities takes place during the last week of May each year. Prior to this, in March, a local couple is selected to become Penicuik's Hunter and Hunter's Lass for that year to represent Penicuik in the many Scottish Border town celebrations. ... Read More

  • Ploughing March and Festival of the Horse

    The South Ronaldsay Boys' Ploughing Match and the Festival of the Horse This is an agricultural festival tradition - believed to be unique to Orkney - which dates back to at least the early 19th century but may have its roots in Viking times. This is a festival for young boys and girls from the island of South Ronaldsay, one of Orkney's south isles. There were similar festivals elsewhere in Orkney - particularly in the island of Stronsay (in which the "horses" were attached to the plough) but this is the... Read More

  • Poor-oot

    The ‘poor-oot’ (pour out) or ‘scramble’ is a tradition related to weddings. As newlyweds drive off from the church after their wedding ceremony the groom (or new husband) throws handfuls of coins out of the car window. Children then ‘scramble’ in the street to grab the scattered money. Presumably this originally symbolised the new husband sharing his ‘good fortune’ and demonstrating his happiness. The practice has different names in different parts of the country. The term ‘Poor-oot’ is ... Read More

  • Pop Day

    At Hallow'een the children of the town of Stromness in Orkney carve turnips into amusing or grotesque heads and paint them in bright colours. They are solid, unlike the more common ‘neepie lanterns’. The children then go around the houses saying ‘A penny tae burn me Pop’ and receive small amounts of money. The origin of this goes back to the Reformation when it was the Pope who was being burnt in effigy, but it has changed over the years to become the innocent sounding ‘Pop’ with no sectarian... Read More

  • Renfrew Gala Day

    Renfrew Gala Day began in 1982 at the initiative of the local community. It seemed incongruous to many that until 1982, a burgh of Renfrew’s historic importance did not have a Gala Day whilst many surrounding towns and villages did e.g. Lillias Day in Kilbarchan and Bishopton Gala Day. Renfrew has an important place in Scottish history through its connection with the High Stewards of Scotland. Castlehill, near the present Ferry Road, was the site of Renfrew Castle, seat of the High Stewards. No trace o... Read More

  • Rowan Trees

    The tradition of planting a Rowan tree in a garden is still followed by some. The Rowan was believed to afford the house and its inhabitants protection from witches. Consequently, it is considered very bad luck to cut down a Rowan tree! The manifold uses of the rowan tree included it being grown for suitable timber for tool handles. It was known for its strength and density, which is advantageous when it comes to making handles for spades, cas-chrom, spinning wheels and walking sticks. Hugh Cheape descri... Read More

  • Samhuinn

    Samhuinn was an ancient Gaelic harvest festival, marking the arrival of winter. An annual event on Edinburgh's Royal Mile reimagines and celebrates what was a highly significant event in the ancient Celtic calendar. An important element of Samhuinn was the belief that this time of the year was a liminal zone where the barrier between the lands of the dead and living was less distinct than during the rest of the year.... Read More

  • Scramble

    The‘scramble’ or ‘poor-oot’ (pour out) is a tradition related to weddings. As newlyweds drive off from the church after their wedding ceremony the groom (or husband) throws handfuls of coins out of the car window. Children then ‘scramble’ in the street to grab the scattered money. Presumably this originally symbolised the new husband sharing his ‘good fortune’ and demonstrating his happiness? There may be similar traditions or different names for this custom in different parts of the country... Read More

  • Sma' Shot Day

    Sma' Shot Day is one of the oldest workers’ festivals in the world. Sma' (Small) Shot Day celebrates the historic victory of the weavers over their employers in 19th century Paisley and has developed into an annual celebration of arts and culture. The Sma' (small) Shot itself was a cotton thread which bound all the colourful weft threads into the warps of the celebrated shawls. The shot was, however, undeen in the final product, and consequently the manufacturers refused to pay for it. The workers, the... Read More

  • Sprawl

    'The Sprawl' is a wedding ritual where a Bride's father tosses coins for the bairns to pick up off the street or pavement as the car leaves the bride's home for the Kirk where she is about to be married. ... Read More

  • St Andrews University - Pier Walk

    On Sundays during term time when the Chapel Service ends at around 12 noon, students wearing their gowns - mainly but not exclusively red flannel undergraduate gowns with velvet yokes - process along North Street to the pier (near the harbour) led by the members of the University Chapel Choir. They walk along the lower part of the pier to the end and, if they are brave, return along the high part. ... Read More

  • St Ayles Skiff

    The 'St Ayles Skiffs' is a design commissioned by the Museum from renowned boat designer Ian Oughtred and are made from a plywood kit. It was inspired by the traditional Fair Isle Skiff. These reasonably priced kits can be purchased from Jordan Boats, partners in the project, with the Museum earning a royalty from each kit sold. Each skiff requires a team of four rowers and one coxswain to complete a full crew with each rower taking one oar. The 'Chris o' Kanaird' was the prototype boat built by Jordan B... Read More

  • Stone Skimming Championships, Easdale

    The World Stone Skimming Championships were started in 1983 by Albert Baker, and then lay fallow until they were resurrected in 1997 by the Eilean Eisdeal (The Easdale Island Community Development Group) as a fundraising event. Easdale Island is the smallest permanently inhabited island of the Inner Hebrides. It was once the centre of a thriving Scottish slate mining industry, and one of the disused quarries forms a perfect arena for the World Stone Skimming Championships. The championships are held ever... Read More

  • Stonehaven Fireball Festival

    "The Fireballs" – as the event is known locally - takes place once a year in Stonehaven down the East coast from Aberdeen and is the main feature of the town’s Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve, 31 December) celebrations. Around fifty participants parade up and down the High Street of the Old Town from the Mercat Cross near the harbour to the Cannon at the west end, swinging fireballs around their heads watched by a mixture of locals and, nowadays, people visiting the town specially to witness the event. The o... Read More

  • Temperance Flute Walk

    'The Walk' - 3 days of temperance walks - is held every year at the Buchan Rathen coastal villages of St Combs, Inverallochy and Cairnbulg in the North East of Scotland. Local walkers, led by flute players and people playing drums and triangles, have been carrying out this tradition for 160 years. The first couple to walk behind the flute band is the oldest man of the village with a female partner, followed by other walkers. Once one village has been ‘walked’ walked round the walkers get on buses and wa... Read More

  • The Meadows Mummers; tradition with a difference.

    Among the practitioners in this field are The Meadows Mummers. This Edinburgh-based all-female group have taken the traditional folk drama “Galoshins” (in all its various spellings) and updated it with a modernised and expanded script, written in rhyming couplets, while still respecting its traditional form and Commedia dell'Arte roots. It was associated with Hogmanay, but the Mummers largely perform at community festivals in the summer, so performances are open-air. Through collaborations with the... Read More

  • The Shetland Yoal

    The Yoal, often referred to as the Ness Yoal, is a small sailing craft (clinker built) used traditionally in the Shetland Islands. It is designed primarily for rowing, but which also handles well under her traditional square sail when running before the wind or on a broad reach. Until about 1860 yoals were imported from Norway, from Hordaland, the area around Bergen, in kit form, and local boat builders followed to Shetland to put them together, but increasing customs duty meant that local builders took ... Read More

  • Tig

    Tig is a tradtional children's game in which one player touches another, then runs off to be pursued and touched in turn. Basics: One player is ‘it’ (sometimes pronounced ‘het’) and they must touch another player (tig them). When It tigs another player the person who has been tug is now It and must tig someone. You usually need to call out 'tig' when you tig somebody. Extra rules: • Designated places are den. When you are in or touching Den you cannot be tigged. Den could be a wall, all walls, ... Read More

  • Touch Wood

    For years I have carried a piece of wood around on my key ring. I use it along with the saying 'touch wood that ... does not happen to me'. I use it for luck and to ward off bad luck. I have no idea why I do it and I think I must have just picked it up from my parents. I have noticed others searching for wood to touch when they have said the saying and tapping their head as ifmade of wood as a joke and as an alternative to the real thing.... Read More

  • Tradfest

    Each year Edinburgh is home to Tradfest TradFest celebrates Scotland’s May festivals – Beltane and Mayday – which traditionally mark the beginning of summer, bringing energy and colour to the capital city as the greening of the year breaks out. Venues include Calton Hill, the Royal Mile, The Pleasance, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Filmhouse, Queens Hall, Summerhall, George Square Theatre and Dance Base. The TradFest Trail highlights craft shops, galleries, pub sessions, instrument makers, book... Read More

  • Tranent Gala Day

    The gala, featuring music, games, stalls and displays, traditionally occurs at the beginning of June in the East Lothian town of Tranent.... Read More

  • Up Helly Aa

    The enduring influence of the Vikings, who arrived in Shetland just over 1000 years ago, is celebrated on the last Tuesday of January every year by fire festivals across Shetland. The events are annual and now take place in mid-Winter, having in some cases evolved from end of year festivities. The centrepiece of these events is a torch-lit procession, culminating in the torching of a replica Viking longship. Lerwick ‘Up Helly Aa’: this is the largest fire festival in Europe. However, this is not the onl... Read More

  • Wallace Day

    The life of William Wallace is commemorated every year in August on the nearest Saturday to the anniversary of his death. The day starts with a march from Johnstone to the site of his birth in Elderslie beside the monument. A wreath is laid at the monument and there are speeches celebrating his life. The day ends with a ceilidh in the village hall. Sir William Wallace was born around 1270. He rose to prominence in the late thirteenth century as a leader in Scotland’s first war of independence with Edwa... Read More

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