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Scottish Holidays

Candlemas Day - 2 February,
Candlemas began as a Roman festival to celebrate the return of spring. It is now a Scottish legal "quarter day" when rents and other payments fall due. There is an old traditional poem which said that

"If Candlemas Day be bright and fair
Half the winter is to come and mair (more)
If Candlemas Day be dark and foul
Half the winter was over at Yowl (Christmas)

St Valentine's Day - 14th February
This used to be an excuse for youngsters to go round begging for sweets, money or fruit, while older brothers and sisters tried to find a sweetheart. "Name-papers" were sometimes used where names were written and placed in a bonnet and and each person drew out a paper. If the same name was drawn three times, it meant a marriage would take place!

Whuppity Scoorie - 1st March
A rumbustious celebration by the young lads of Lanark. It is a relic of the days when making a lot of noise was believed to frighten away the evil spirits. Pennies supplied by money from the Common Good Fund was thrown and the children scrambled to pick it up. Balls of paper (or bonnets - a lot softer!) tied with string were used by the participants to strike one another.

Original New Year - 25th March
The Celtic New Year was celebrated on Samhain (November 1st). Then, until 1600, the Gregorian Calendar which was used in Scotland, placed New Year on 25th March.

Fastern's E'en - Last Tuesday Before Lent
This was a carnival and feast held on the last Tuesday before the sacrifices of Lent, during which meat, butter and fat were used up. Around Scotland the day had different names such as Bannock Night, Beef Brose and Shriften E'en. In some places there was a rowdy game of football or handball, for example in Jedburgh, a rowdy game of handball called the Callant's Ba' was held between the "uppies" and the "downies".

Easter - Variable Dates
There was a festival for "Eastre", a Saxon goddess of fertility, in pre-Christian times which was integrated into the Christian calendar. The date is moveable, because the calculation is based on phases of the moon. In Scotland, to this day, "hot cross buns" are baked, containing spices and fruit and with a white pastry cross. On Good Friday, no ploughing was done and no seed was sown. The custom of rolling painted, hard-boiled eggs down a hill took place on Easter Monday.

Hunt the Gowk - 1st April
On this day people would play tricks and tell lies to catch each other out. But the jokes had to stop at mid-day. Now called April Fool's Day, hunting the gowk was originally sending someone on a foolish errand.

"Dinna laugh, an' dinna smile
But hunt the gowk another mile"

Preen-tail Day or Tailie Day - 2nd April
The day following All Fool's Day when paper tails were attached to the backs of unsuspecting people as a joke.

Glen Saturday - the first or third Saturday in April
The day when the children of Kilmarnock in Ayrshire went to Crawfurdland Castle to pick daffodils.

Whitsunday - the seventh Sunday after Easter
Another Scottish legal quarter day when rents fell due.



 


History of Scotland

The history of Scotland begins around 10,000 years BP (Before Present), when humans first began to inhabit Scotland after the end of the Devensian glaciation, the last ice age.  Of the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age civilization that existed in the country, many artifacts remain, but few written records were left behind.

     The written history of Scotland largely begins with the arrival of the Roman Empire in Britain, when the Romans occupied what is now England and Wales, administering it as a Roman Province called Britannia. To the north was territory not governed by the Romans — Caledonia, by name. Its people were the Picts. From a classical historical viewpoint Scotland seemed a peripheral country, slow to gain advances filtering out from the Mediterranean fount of civilization, but as knowledge of the past increases it has become apparent that some developments were earlier and more advanced than previously thought, and that the seaways were very important to Scottish history.

     Because of the geographical orientation of Scotland and its strong reliance on trade routes by sea, the nation held close links in the south and east with the Baltic countries, and through Ireland with France and the continent of Europe. Following the Act of Union and the subsequent Scottish Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution, Scotland became one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe. Its industrial decline following the Second World War was particularly acute, but in recent decades the country has enjoyed something of a cultural and economic renaissance, fueled in part by a resurgent financial service sector, the proceeds of North Sea Oil and gas, and latterly a devolved parliament.