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I’ve lived in Scotland my entire life. Here are 6 traditions I grew up with that my American friends find surprising.

Mikhaila Friel photographed in St. Andrews, Scotland.Mikhaila Friel/Insider

  • I was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and have lived there for many of my life.

  • After spending time in the US and England, I realized Scotland’s traditions aren’t thought of “typical.”

  • From Burns Supper to bagpipes, right here are all of the traditions I grew up with.

I’ve lived in Scotland, UK, for nearly my entire life.

scotland google maps

A map exhibiting Scotland in the UK.Google Maps

I was born in Scotland, a small nation in the United Kingdom with round 5.4 million residents, in accordance with the National Records of Scotland.

While Scotland is a part of the UK, there are traditions that I grew up with that aren’t celebrated by the remainder of the nation — or the world.

I’ve lived in the nation for many of my life, with the exception of a brief study-abroad semester in Pennsylvania in 2016 and, over the previous few years, I have frolicked in London for work.

It was solely when I made friends who weren’t from Scotland — notably my US-based friends — that I realized simply how distinctive a few of our traditions are thought of to the remainder of the world.

Every January, we have fun Burns Night in honor of the well-known poet Robert Burns.


Robert Burns.Kean Collection/Getty Images

Burns Night falls on January 25 yearly in honor of Robert Burns, or “Rabbie Burns” as he is identified in Scotland.

Burns was an 18th-century poet from Dumfries and is taken into account the nation’s nationwide poet. He’s finest identified for writing the lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne,” a music which is commonly carried out on New Year’s Eve in Scotland and in different nations.

When I was in major college, our lecturers used Burns Night to show us about poetry. I keep in mind performing in “The Burns Factor,” a contest in which we needed to recite our favourite Burns poem by reminiscence.

On Burns Night, we eat a standard Scottish meal often known as “Burns Supper.”

burns supper

Haggis, neaps, and tatties.Colin McPherson/Corbis by way of Getty Images

On Burns Night, many households throughout Scotland get pleasure from a “Burns Supper” for his or her dinner.

A Burns Supper consists of haggis (spiced meat encased in animal intestines), neeps (turnip), and tatties (potato). While it is hottest on Burns Night, my household eats haggis a number of instances a 12 months, and it might probably often be discovered served at eating places throughout any time of the 12 months.

Haggis has been banned in the US since 1971, as a result of the standard recipe contains sheep lung. However, you will get a vegetarian version of it in some shops, in accordance with iNews.

Men put on kilts at essential celebrations, reminiscent of college proms, weddings, and graduations.

mikhaila's parents wedding

A photograph of Mikhaila’s mother and father, Debbie and David Friel, on their wedding ceremony day in 1995.Mikhaila Friel/Insider

Kilts are a tartan skirt-type garment that originated in the Scottish highlands in the sixteenth century, in accordance with Lochcarron of Scotland.

It’s not one thing males stroll round in day-after-day. Kilts are saved for particular occasions, reminiscent of college proms, graduations, and weddings.

When I confirmed the above photograph of my mother and father on their wedding ceremony day to a few of my scholar friends in the US, they had been shocked that my dad obtained married carrying a “skirt.” But rising up in Scotland, it is the norm.

At college dances, we do not dance to fashionable music. Instead, we now have conventional Scottish dancing, often known as ceilidhs.

ceilidh dance

People ceilidh dance on the Royal Mile in the course of the Hogmanay New Year celebrations in Edinburgh.Andrew Milligan/PA Images by way of Getty Images

A ceilidh is a gathering which entails dancing to conventional people music, both in companions or in teams to set choreographed routines, all of which have their very own names. For instance, one of the widespread routines is known as the “Gay Gordons.”

Growing up, our college threw a ceilidh yearly earlier than Christmas. For the complete month of December, each gymnasium class was devoted to studying and working towards the completely different routines.

When I studied in the US, it had been years since I had been to a ceilidh — and but, I nonetheless remembered each transfer of the “Gay Gordons” and (unsuccessfully) tried to show it to my roommates.

Bagpipes are performed at essential occasions.


Bagpipe participant on the Braemar Games, ScotlandTim Graham/Getty Images

Bagpipes are performed at a variety of occasions, together with parades, funerals, and even college assemblies. It’s additionally frequent to see bagpipers busking on the streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Bagpipe music is taken into account widespread in Scotland, and there are a number of piper bands together with the Red Hot Chilli Pipers that have made a reputation for themselves — regardless of the instrument’s generally destructive portrayal in popular culture.

New Year’s Eve — often known as Hogmanay in Scotland — entails a number of traditions.

edinburgh new year's eve

Fireworks in Edinburgh, Scotland on New Year’s Eve 2013.Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns by way of Getty Images

Hogmanay, the Scottish phrase for New Year’s Eve, is believed to be linked to the French word “hoginane” which means “gala day,” in accordance with BBC Newsround. The publication provides that the time period was first used extensively after Mary, Queen of Scots’ return to Scotland from France in 1561.

The Hogmanay custom I keep in mind most vividly is known as “first footing,” which implies being the primary particular person to enter somebody’s home (often a relative or a pal) after midnight for good luck.

Another custom entails having steak pie on New Year’s Day, nevertheless, that’s one thing I have solely completed on a handful of events.

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