"There are many customs, both national and local, associated with Hogmanay. The most widespread national custom is the practice of "first footing" which starts immediately after midnight. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour and often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as salt (less common today), coal, shortbread, whisky and black bun (a rich fruit cake) intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. Food and drink (as the gifts) are then given to the guests. This may go on throughout the early hours of the morning and well into the next day (although modern days see people visiting houses well into the middle of January). The first-foot is supposed to set the luck for the rest of the year. Traditionally, tall dark men are preferred as the first-foot."
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Scottish Words and Customs from Ian
I recently came across a couple of rarely used words out of Scotland (you need a really big dictionary to find these words!):
1. Assoil (also assoiler, assoiling, assoilment) (from Scottish assolyhe) - it has several meanings, all in the theme of, and including: 1. to absolve from sin, 2. to reverse an excommunication, 3. to set free from obligations, 4. to acquit of a criminal charge, 5. to set free, 6 to atone.
I came across this one in an old Scottish legal decision.
2. Gardyloo (from the French "gare de l'eau" meaning "beware of the water") - "A warning cry uttered (in old Edinburgh) before throwing dirty water from the window into the street."
I came across this one in a legal publication. They said "Gardyloo - a well-known Scottish expression whose usage is now thankfully unnecessary. The cry 'Gardyloo' preceded the dumping of slops into the street from high tenement windows."
I'm sure that you can find a way to use these words, and show off your expanded vocabulary, somewhere in everyday conversation.
Hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and hogmanay (which, for some of our kinsfolk, may have just wrapped up!).
As to Hogmanay, here is what wikipedia says about the Scottish custom:
Best wishes for 2011, not to mention today's Robbie Burns' celebrations (for the first time, I'm doing the Toast to the Haggis in a couple of hours, at my Mom's retirement home - wish me luck).
Posted by Edie at 7:28 PM