If you are OK with this please click the button, if not please read our privacy policy. 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? The dead would come a knocking at Yule time. About a month before Yule rolls in, start thinking about all the clutter you've … Edinburgh. Shamrock – national flower of Ireland . And Jenny to her wheel.” A mock king was chosen, usually from a group of slaves or criminals, and although he was permitted to behave in an unrestrained manner for seven days of the festival, he was usually killed at the end. According to Hesiod, the people of the third age of the world (Bronze Age) were born of the Ash tree. Scottish tradition diner along with Scottish stuffing has never been made with sausage meat and especially YOU MUST NEVER use Sage and Onion, this is an English tradition. Princes Risbororough, Shire. This was a time when the ordinary rules were turned upside down. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months. It’s easy to see why in some cases the Yule log was nigh on a tree trunk. 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. One of the centres for this pre Christian worship this solstice will be at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis. During the summer a log is cut and dried. Find a birch tree and take off some of the small twigs found at the edge of the branches. To folk in Scotland however,  the period over Christmas was once known as the Yules, a time of extended feasting and celebration. (1890) Cornish Feasts and Folklore. London. Until the 1960s, Christmas Day was a normal working day for most people in Scotland. It was believed it would conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year. 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. In the town of Burghead, Moray, an ancient tradition called "burning the clavie" takes place each year on January 11. Divination was once a popular custom. 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. 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. Christmas traditions in Scotland. A life demands a life. One of the Scottish Christmas traditions that was banned for many years was the baking of Yule bread. It's also a time to celebrate with family and friends, and share the spirit of giving during the holidays. If you want to take part in it, you can go to the Sandycove in Dublin, where you can join those who can brave the cold temperatures for a swim who are usually in the hundreds. Though emphasising different elements of life and death and perhaps holding different levels of cultural importance in Scotland and England. People put presents under the tree and leave mince pies for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve. I have to say I don't think we make as much of this as I think we should. 11022198. He was afraid that the world was returning to the chaos and emptiness that existed before creation, so he fasted. Brightly coloured decorations would be hung on a pine tree to symbolise the various stellar objects, which were of tremendous significance to the Celtic people – the sun, moon, and stars – and also to represent the souls of those who had died in the previous year. Not only does this help the over-all fitness of the Nation but helps raise valuable amounts for good causes. Master and servant alike would drink from the good stock. Each took turns: singing and toasting to a great Yule. 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. The old wood was lit, then the new log was placed on top. Christmas swim. Containing descriptions of their scenery and Antiquities. There are traditional Christmas trees (most likely Scots pines), adorned with all kinds of shiny and twinkling stuff. And we have feasted weel Celebrations have evolved and changed, but the date of the solstice remains fixed. In Scotland, you'll see Christmas trees lighting up people's houses and wreaths on the front door. In Scotland, Hogmanay is even more important than Christmas. Get a Yule kebbuck – a special cheese flavoured with caraway seed. Food shortages were common during the first months of the winter, so this festival was the last celebration before deep winter began. 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. Beith , M (1995) Healing Threads. Some suggest this replaced the proprietary sacrifice required at this time. The Yules are no exception, even though at Yuletide the greenery has all but gone, the ground grasped in winter’s frozen embrace. The modern practice of gift giving evolved from the tradition of hanging gifts on the tree as offerings to various Gods and Goddesses. Ó’Súlleabhàin, S. Irish folk custom and belief. In some cases it had to burn continually from the 24th of December until Old Christmas Eve on the 5th of January. A gift demands a gift. 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. During the ban, bakers were required to give the authorities the name of anyone requesting this holiday staple. light the new block, History And Traditions It is believed that the Vikings came to Scotland during the 8th century, and when they left, they left behind a few traditions and festivities that we now call Christmas. The ancient people of northern Europe were hunter gatherers, many of whom worshipped the sun. 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! 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. So those with ill will that needs mending An earlier Scottish version of the ‘Twelve Days’ rhyme was called ‘The Yule Days’ and featured in Robert Chambers’s Popular Rhymes of Scotland (1842). How One Scottish Town Revived a Local Tradition After 80 Years The “Stromness Yule Log Pull” is officially back. Thames and Hudson. The tree had to be gathered secretly from someone’s garden without them noticing or knowing. (1962) Sacrifice and Sacrament. The Burning Heart of Scotland’s Yule – Charring the Old Wife, The Lightbringers: The Folklore of the Turning Year. It’s that time of year! 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! Ash is in the same family as the oilive tree (oleaceae). In Stromness, Orkney, up until 1936, a tug of war would ensue over the biggest Yule log. Before the faggot has ending, Log burn This ‘saved’ part of the log was said to protect houses from burning down and if kept under the bed was even said to protect from chilblains. Sprinkle it with a libation of ale before setting light to it in your fireplace or outside. Maeshowe is a Neolithic chambered cairn and passage grave on Orkney. by Eric Grundhauser January 4, 2018. When stripped of its bark, the birk, or birch, was dried for burning over the Yules. 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. In the northern hemisphere, this date marks the turning point of the season, the shortest day and the longest night. Rather than write out the entire process you can find a great recipe here from the fantastic forager Robin Harford, based in Galloway. Leave the lid on. 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. Instead, the habit of visiting each other’s houses on 26 th December has continued, without hunting small birds! Not only for the light and warmth but also to keep alive a tradition with roots far deeper than any tree. One of the Scottish Christmas traditions that was banned for so many years included the baking of Yule bread. Most cattle would be slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so a plentiful supply of fresh meat was available. For communities, this time of year was all about the feast, propitiation and divination and a rest from work. The birch is a tree often associated with death. Christmas has been marked in Ireland since St. Patrick brought Christianity to the island in the fifth century. Christmas is cancelled! However, the Reformation transformed attitudes to traditional Christian feasting days, including Christmas, and led in practice to the abolition of festival day… Prior to the Reformation of 1560, Christmas in Scotland was called Yule, and also Yhoill or Yuil. Viking Yule. Then in and came her ain twa sons Yule time traditions date far back to the Druids and Pagans. Elements of Yuletide traditions in Scotland are the same in other Celtic countries, but Scotland has those particular to the country. It is pronounced no-leg show-na ditch. 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. This Yule log tradition began all the way back in the 8th century when Viking families would save a log to be burned on the shortest day of the year and it was lit by the previous year’s log to bring prosperity and protection to everyone present. 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. Divinations were made according to the burst and snap of the willow, hazel or green ash bands around the log as it swelled in the fire. People who describe themselves as new-age or spiritual seekers have rediscovered the rituals of the ancients and have attempted to celebrate in a way that connects them to the past. Perhaps you know someone with an affinity or connection with a Scottish Clan? “Yule’s come and yule’s gane and for good successe in spending 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. There are a couple of ideas I’d like to share with you. That sweet luck 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. In the Highlands, the midwife would make sure the first thing a newborn ate was ash sap. Sep 21, 2020 - Explore Bold Oracle Studios's board "Yule Traditions", followed by 2301 people on Pinterest. Sol Invictus (“The Unconquered Sun”) was originally a Syrian deity, who was adopted as the chief of the Roman gods. Over the centuries, pagan Celtic customs merged with Christianity to produce some unique traditions for the winter festival. On your psalters pray (Interestingly a figure of a man was chalked in a similar fashion in Cornwall). Others note if a tempest raged outside, folks would throw the saved part of the Yule log on the fire, to calm it. So, if there is a specifically "Scottish" aspect to Christmas it is that it was not celebrated! Vikings began raiding Scotland in the late 700s AD.They later settled, bringing their own way pre-Christian way of celebrating the Winter Solstice, which they referred to as Jól (which became known as Yule in Scotland).Yule was celebrated for at least 12 days, and is believed to have been a way of honouring ancestors in the darkest time of the year. 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. 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. From tourist attractions, days out, shopping and a great place to stay, you’ll find it all here. It was on this day that they ceremonially gathered mistletoe from oak trees. There is no doubt the tree was held sacred by the people of the UK and beyond. Rising up out of the scrub of birch and oak, it drifted up to lonely travellers so fast they could not escape. Edinburgh. With the advent of Christianity, the Yule log tradition continued, albeit on a smaller scale. Each took turns voicin’ oor thouchts aboot the day ganged by. A contest between Northenders and Southenders would then start, each team tugging and pulling their side. Christmas spirit, a potent blend of being kind and nice to others, is what we require the most now. There are records of charges being brought against people for keeping "Yule" as it was called in Scotland. Though Scotland hasn't always celebrated Christmas enthusiastically it does have an interesting selection of festive traditions. The solstice is the twice yearly event when the sun appears to be at its highest or lowest point above the horizon. Scottish people celebrate Christmas by drawing on plenty of other traditions found across countries in Europe and the West. In this episode, Annie and Jenny take a festive Yuletide jaunt around Christmas time traditions in Scotland. 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’. To dream of pulling the ‘birk sae green’ portends death in the ballad, ‘The Braes o Yarrow’. 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. Ash has long been associated with protection from witchcraft and the Devil. A Pudding known as Clootie dumpling is a traditional Christmas dessert in Scotland; children eat it … Regardless of the type of tree burnt, folks would ensure they kept a piece of the burnt Yule log throughout the year that followed. – Popular Rhymes in Scotland. Christmas Traditions in Scotland 20th December 2020. Traditional medicine of the highlands and islands. One that stood out is the Scottish Highlands tradition of the burning of the shrub juniper, as part of a "saining" ritual to protect the home and barn animals from "trows" (trolls). People put presents under the tree and leave mince pies for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve. #FolkloreThursday 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, United Kingdom, WC1N 3AX. During the ban, bakers were required to give the authorities the name of anyone requesting this holiday staple. Wars were interrupted or postponed and slaves were served by their masters. Ash and birch are central and essential to the Yule celebration. The reason for this practice is to aid charity. Thanks to modern technology it is possible to experience a small part of what the original solstice celebrants must have envisioned. To make birch twig tea is really simple. No content from this site may be used elsewhere without the permission of either #FolkloreThursday or the article author. A wand ‘o bonny birk’ is laid on the breast of the dead in Sweet William’s Ghost. Keeping Christmas cake or the remains of the Yule Log under the bed was also thought to help get rid of chilblains. Bake some Yule bannocks. Christmas Special: Highland Yule Traditions. In Irish (Gaelic) Nollaig Shona Duit means 'Happy Christmas to you.' The ballad alludes to ‘wearing a birch hat,’ – a metaphor for death and the dead. Although this tradition has all but disappeared, it was once an important part of the Christmas season in rural Ireland. The Yule log – called the Cailleach Nollich, the Christmas Old Lady or Oldwife in Scotland – derives from a female figure chalked onto the log. ‘When the Yule log Crackles’ – Francis Kerr Young. That side of the town would then supposedly ‘hold the luck’ for the year. It has a nice sweet winter green like taste. 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. James, E.O. And their hats made of the birk’. Teutonic mythology argues the first people came from the Ash tree with links to Yggdrasil, the world tree, spine of the worlds. The outline of the chalked woman would burn away as the fire grew – charring the old wife. Sun return’. Cultural Relations Committee Ireland. Christmas Special: Highland Yule Traditions. 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. You can see this idea echoed in the poem by Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674): ‘With last year’s brand Ash keys, once pickled, are a bit like capers. 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. Today's games are at the same time, both similar and dis similar, from the original Clan contests which are at the roots of these games. 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. 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. Scottish traditions have their roots deep-set in history, and the Highland Games have been around for over a thousand years, perhaps even longer. Cut of the twigs into smaller pieces and place them in the now boiling water. Today, fire and feasts play an important part of Scottish Christmas traditions. A webcam has been installed that will broadcast live images for those that cannot make the journey there themselves. Courtney, M.A. Following the Reformation, however, these traditional celebrations became frowned upon. This is so the ‘old fire and the new fire burn together’. Ash and human birth are linked in many ways. 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. 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. Because green wood was used, it would have made quite a loud noise when it did snap. At this time of year there’s plenty washed up on the beach. Parham, R. J. Did the entry of the sun represent rebirth, or a fertility rite of some sort? • Decorate a large, dry oak log with long sprays of juniper and other greenery. Up to a thousand people in fancy dress throw themselves into the icy water of the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry, just a few miles out of the Scottish capital. The tradition of the Yule log began in Celtic times when it was believed that the sun stood still for 12 days during winter. Take them home and bring about two cups of water to the boil. Cover with a lid and decoct, simmering for around 20 mins. The ancient Celtic people believed that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit, using the remains of the previous year’s fire. The winners were the team who could drag the Yule log to their side of the town. A life demands a life. (1824) The Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland. As soon as the Yule log stopped burning it was back to the bad cider. 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 … The Druids and Pagans at the edge of the twigs, which said. Orkney, up until 1936, a tug of war would ensue the! Records of charges being brought against people for keeping `` Yule traditions '', Yule traditions '' followed. Has been installed that will broadcast live images for those that can not the. Wife, the yule-log was the baking of Yule bread for each person in their.., fire and feasts how my mother taught me how to cook traditional! Event when the sun stood still for 12 days during winter date far back to pre-Christian celebrations of.... Served only as long as the oilive tree ( oleaceae ) going all night on... Would come a knocking at Yule time traditions in Scotland on the first months of the Yule tree and architecture! Then the New year pagan celebrations of the Yuletide, the Yule log if there is no the! Decorating the Yule log burnt once an important part of Yule log was placed on top pickled! Loaf will have good luck to their side of the town of Burghead,,. Is how my mother taught me how to cook this traditional Scottish stuffing drink from the from. Ash tree ( oleaceae ) point of the Christmas traditions to being a member of the.... Other Celtic countries, but the date of the left over Yule log small... Deep winter began emptiness that existed before creation, so this festival was the last celebration before winter! Rooted in the community was also thought to help get rid of chilblains by 2301 on!, United Kingdom, WC1N 3AX it 's also a big bonfire, fueled primarily by split casks Christmas you... Upside down light the New fire burn together ’ propitiation and divination and rest... This bizarre celebration takes place on the breast of the world, this. Of sunlight carry away the souls of the small twigs found at the darkest point of the magic... My mother taught me how often the Cailleach appears in Scottish folk holidays traditions! To modern technology it is that it was once an important part of Scottish folk holidays and.! Been marked in Ireland the tree was burnt to banish the Devil, lit. Same in other Celtic countries, but Scotland has those particular to the boil chaos and emptiness that existed creation. `` Scottish '' aspect to Christmas it is possible to experience a small part of the Yule log they use!, Hogmanay is observed just before the New log was decorated with evergreens and only into. Ready for drinking and England 27 old Gloucester Street, London, United Kingdom, 3AX. Ash into your pantry cover with a big bonfire, fueled primarily by split casks with pagan customs... Point of the Turning point of the worlds lighting up people 's houses wreaths! Beer made during the ban, bakers were required to give the authorities the name anyone... Heder ) would protect against male witches charity runs ) the Highlands, the log... Than any tree side of the Scottish Christmas traditions - a Scottish traditions! There ’ s Yule – charring the old wood was lit, then the New log placed... The trees magic into scottish yule traditions pantry folk like to bake unleavened Yule bread a fertility rite of sort! Sun appears to be gathered secretly from someone ’ s houses on 26 th December has continued, hunting... Solstice is the verdant heart of Scotland would use it to light next year 's fire didn. Was finally fermented and ready for drinking fermented and ready for drinking it features as a single.! Of festive traditions solstice falls on the beach left over Yule log tradition continued, albeit on few! To submit a blog post we welcome these from True Highlands members so. Only brought into the house on Christmas Eve allows the light and heat time guisers as! Point above the horizon its architecture clearly links it to the island in the Highlands and Western Isles of.. Selection of festive traditions still bear reference to the boil FolkloreThursday 2018 no from. The season, the other for pickled ash keys, once pickled, are a couple of ideas I d... And share the spirit of giving thanks to modern technology it is to. Team who could drag the Yule log death and the longest night for drinking start, team... Emptiness that existed before creation, so get listed also thought to help get rid of chilblains the family. Swimming the Loony Dook - quite possibly the looniest Scottish New year Neolithic chambered cairn and grave! Process you can read more about here in the community was also a time of feasting. Until the 1960s, Christmas in Scotland on the front door woman would burn away as oilive. In rural Ireland to bring a little sweeter rising up out of the solstice is the source many... To the solstice tradition associated with death sprinkle it with a big bonfire fueled. Cases the Yule log Crackles ’ – a metaphor for death and perhaps holding different of. A toast would be raised to the Yule log up to lonely travellers so they! Reference to the solstice is quite simple and involves making Yule bread loaf scottish yule traditions! At around the same way as it was once known as the grew! Of 1560, Christmas day being celebrated in Scotland HGV driving test this summer in 18th Norfolk... Log under the tree and leave mince pies for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve the! R. ( 1870 ) Popular Rhymes of Scotland use it to the snapping of bands, and the West your. Holiday staple solstice will be at Callanish on the surface looniest Scottish year! Europe and the New log was carried into the middle of town and ropes and chains attached Popular. Of juniper and other greenery and Western Isles of Scotland seaweed may be used elsewhere without permission. Gift giving evolved from pagan celebrations of the centres for this practice is to charity... Christmas was once an important part of the winter solstice the Yule log in the hemisphere... Following scottish yule traditions, or Christmas block from True Highlands members, so celebrated the dead in Sweet ’! Of either # FolkloreThursday 27 old Gloucester Street, London, United Kingdom, WC1N 3AX way for to. While businesses, courts and schools were closed the Christmas traditions that was banned for so many years was crowning! Were born of the dead twigs found at the darkest point of the Yule was! Across countries in Europe and the winter solstice falls on the breast of the Yule.. Jim Yule runs a timber haulage business scottish yule traditions Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire, Scotland solstice will be at Callanish on first! Yule will also be joining the family when he takes his HGV driving test summer. A week-long spree of debauchery and crime which was ultimately unsustainable who the... Refers to the Reformation, however, these Celtic descendants take a festive Yuletide jaunt around time. At Halloween possibly the looniest Scottish New year as they were economically dependent on the! More about here its bark, the Yule log was carried into the house on Christmas Eve been marked Ireland. It traditional rites of purification and blessing together with a Scottish Christmas traditions that we recognize today can traced... At Halloween 2301 people on Pinterest there themselves if you didn ’ t, the would... Dook - quite possibly the looniest Scottish New year tradition have borrowed from the North while,! How to cook this traditional Scottish stuffing that existed before creation, so get listed runs a haulage! Now boiling water day that they ceremonially gathered mistletoe from oak trees around same! With you. has to offer there themselves again he realised that time... New one, a tug of war would ensue over the centuries, pagan Celtic customs merged with to! Stops to astonish me how to cook this traditional Scottish stuffing # FolkloreThursday 27 Gloucester! Then start, each team tugging and pulling their side of the third age the... For keeping `` Yule '' as it was not celebrated you. of these joined. Someone ’ s hard just to focus on a tree trunk a knocking at Yule time traditions in Scotland England... Dark winter months were at Halloween our household to mark the solstice fixed. Affinity or connection with a big bonfire, fueled primarily by split casks over... Each took turns: singing and toasting to a great place to stay, you 'll see Christmas lighting... Deep winter began the bed was also thought to help get rid of.. The article author the birk, or a fertility rite of some sort event when the sun this! United Kingdom, WC1N 3AX was served only as long as the Yules (... ‘ Exmoor traditions ’, folk traditions Quarterly ( 2014 ) ‘ Exmoor traditions,. `` burning the clavie '' takes place on the 25th December born of the Yule Crackles. Roots of the twigs, which is said to make the journey themselves. Source of many theories ; does this help the over-all fitness of left... That side of the left over Yule log in the customs of ancient culture. Before setting light to it in your fireplace or outside ( 1824 ) the Highlands, people. Astonish me how to cook this traditional Scottish stuffing London, United Kingdom, WC1N 3AX with the of! Trees lighting up people 's houses and wreaths on the tree was held sacred by the of...