• 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

  • Arbroath Smokies Angus Culinary Traditions Year round

    Arbroath Smokies are a particular variery of smoked haddock. They originated in Auchmithie, a small fishing village a few miles north of Arbroath. The smoking technique is similar to one used widely in Scandinavia, which indicates probable Scandinavian origins of the villagers Tradtionally, the fish was smoked in halved barrels with fires underneath, trapping the smoke under layers of hessian sacking. With the decline of local fishing industry at the start of the 20th century, much of the local population ... Read More

  • Bere Bannock

    A bere bannock is a kind of flatbread made with bere, a barley-like grain which has been grown in Orkney for thousands of years, both for human and animal food. In the old days, it was called bygg and today is usually called corn in Orkney. Its cultivation on any scale is currently restricted to Orkney. Bere is still milled at the Barony Mill by Loch Boardhouse on Mainland Orkney and bags of the flour can be bought there, or in local village shops. If you're using it for bread-making, it will produce a heav... 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

  • Bridal traditions - Scottish

    Sixpence in the Bride's Shoe A sixpence (silver coin) placed in a bride's shoe is believed to bring her good luck. Possibly related to the last line (less well known than the rest) of:

    Something old, something new Something borrowed, something blue And a silver sixpence in her shoe
    Each of the above is believed to bring good luck and a happy marriage. "Something old" for continuity with the past and with her family; . "Something new" to bring hope for... 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Hogmanay

    Hogmanay is the Scots name for New Year's eve. The tradition of seeing out the old year and welcoming in the new has, in cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh, been adopted and transformed in recent decades to the point that 'Hogmanay' is now often associated with these huge public type of 'events' with firework displays. However many older non-commercial public events take place around Scotland e.g. the Stonehaven Fireball Festival or Comrie Flambeaux. Prior to the recent 'Edinburgh's Hogmany' festiva... 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

  • 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

  • New Year Calendar Tradition

    In my home at New Year I never turn a calendar to show January until after midnight. I was taught from my Glasgow grandparents that it was bad luck to show the face of the calendar before the new year. Our tradition was to take down the old calendar on New Year's Eve and replace it with a new calendar, but to show the back blank page. When it was past midnight as a child I was allowed to turn all the calendars in the house around. I still carry this practise on today. In addition my family always thought it... 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

  • 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 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

  • The West End Callans Association

    The West End Callans Association was founded in the late 1860s as a charitable association whose purpose was “ make life a little easier for the deserving poor, particularly the old and helpless”. Assistance could be in the form of gifts of coal, goods, sums of money, or any other form determined by the Committee of Management. Only those who had been born in the West End of Paisley or who had lived there for more than twenty years qualified for assistance. The geographical area covered by the ... 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

  • Weather Predictions

    Traditional Scots language sayings relating to the weather: If the deer lies doon on Martinmas Day Oo'll hae six weeks o rain. ... Read More

  • Wedding Cogs

    Wooden wedding cogs are vessels from which ale is consumed at Orcadian weddings. These cogs have long been a prominent feature of island weddings, and remain a prominent feature today. The exact mixture which now goes into the cog varies with every wedding, as each family tends to have its own views on the correct recipe. Despite the family variations, the base ingredients of this potent alcoholic mixture are usually hot ale, gin, brandy and whisky mixed with sugar and pepper. Traditionally, there were best... Read More

  • Wedding Shower

    Wedding Shower or 'Showing of Presents: one night during the week/s immediately before a wedding the bride and her mother host a party for female friends and relations invited to the wedding. Guests bring wedding presents/gifts to the mother’s house where they are opened by the bride and put on show by mother and daughter along with cards saying whom each gift is from. ... Read More

  • Wedding-Horseshoes

    It is traditional for the newly married bride and groom to be presented with a horseshoe, directly after they have exited the wedding venue, as a symbol of good luck. In some families the tradition is for the horseshoe to be presented by the youngest wedding guest. The horseshoe given now is usually a symbolic horseshoe made from plastic, cardboard or similar light weight material, rather than an iron horseshoe made by a blacksmith. ... Read More

Connect With Us