Happy Hogmanay! #Sepia Saturday

Robert Todd Fireworks photo

Photograph courtesy of Robert Todd

Having had a quiet Christmas, we’re now into Hogmanay.  Celebrating on Auld Year’s Night is traditionally a bigger event in Scotland than Christmas, as celebrating Christmas was banned in the 16th century after the Reformation of the Church who regarded it as a “Popist festival”.  The ban lasted for about 400 years and Christmas Day was a normal working day in Scotland until the 1960’s.

Torchlight processions and fireworks reminiscent of the ancient Scottish pagan festivities are common and many towns and villages retain their own odd customs.  In Stonehaven, near Aberdeen, on the stroke of midnight sixty men parade the streets swinging balls of fire in the ancient Fireballs Ceremony.  Check out the video – I can almost smell the singeing of the kilties’ hairy legs.

Photograph courtesy of the Stonehaven Fireballs Association

Many people go to ceilidhs to dance, have a few drinks and see in the New Year with friends and family.  It’s traditionally a warm, friendly time and everyone wishes each other a “Happy New Year” with a hug and a kiss, even strangers.  As the parties are winding down, the revellers link arms, forming a circle and sing Rabbie Burns’ song “Auld Lang Syne” while moving in and out, standing on toes on the way in and stretching arms on the way out.  This gets progressively faster, louder and rowdier and is nearly as hazardous as Scottish country dancing.  The BBC Symphony Orchestra do a more genteel version of the song.  Partying often goes on until very late on Ne’er Day, the 1st of January, so it’s appropriate that the first two days of January are Scottish holidays, to allow for Recovery Time.

Even if you’re at home, there are traditions to be observed.  The house should be cleaned (“redding up”), and the ashes from the fire emptied – if you’re lucky someone may be able to read the ashes for you, like reading tea leaves, to see what the New Year will bring.

In days gone by, twigs from a Rowan tree would be placed above a door to bring luck, and a piece of mistletoe would protect the health the householders. Holly kept the fairies out and the magical powers of hazel and yew twigs protected the house and its occupants.  Juniper would be burnt throughout the house, then all the doors were opened for a good blow-through before the house was then ready to bring in the New Year.

The “first foot” (the first  visitor to come to your door after midnight) should bring a good luck gift (usually of an Adult Beverage nature and preferably whisky), salt, black bun (what’s that?), shortbread and a piece of coal are all acceptable.  It’s a good sign if he is tall and dark haired – historically a blond visitor meant potential trouble of the Norse kind :-)  If no visitors are expected, a suitable person may be chosen to be sent out of the house and come back in again with the requisite gifts.  The back door and the front door of the house are opened at midnight – the New Year comes in the front while the Old Year leaves by the back.

“Here’s tae us – wha’s like us?  Damn few,  and they’re a’ deid!”

I wish you a Happy New Year when midnight arrives in your part of the world – may 2012 bring you peace, joy, happiness and success in all your endeavours.  Consider yourself hugged.


Check out other Sepia Saturday posts – and please leave a comment, bloggers love a comment!

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Born on Christmas Day – #Sentimental Sunday

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I thought I ‘d have a quick look in my family history files and see who was born on Christmas Day and I found (all in Scotland):

Margaret Matilda Graham born 25 Dec 1853 in Coupar Angus, Perth

James Liddell born 25 Dec 1858 in New Monkland, Lanark

David Hardie born 25 Dec 1819 in Dunfermline, Fife

Patrick Justice born 25 Dec 1743 in Murroes, Angus

so 0.1568% of my ancestors were born on Christmas Day – quite a surprise that there  were so few.  I’ll try again on Hogmanay and on New Year’s Day and see what the percentage comes out at :-)

Meantime – enjoy the holidays, make sure to put your feet up and claim your share of the chocolate while it lasts.  I intend to.


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Sepia Saturday 103 – a little box but what was in it?

It’s Sepia Saturday time, and for our inspiration and interest Alan has posted a 1961 photo of a nurse getting ready to hop in her car go off on her rounds.  My mum was a nurse in 1961 but I don’t have any pictures of her in uniform.  I do however have some little treasures stashed away…

Hamilton & Inches jewellery box

Mum trained at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh when it was located in the city centre, and was presented with her badge at the end of her training.  It’s enamel on silver and is engraved on the back with her name and her number.

Badge Registered General Nurse Scotland

She was very proud of this badge as it represented many years of hard work leading up to her qualifying.  BUT the Big and Much Coveted One was presented to her after her first year of working as a nurse – her “Pelican”.

Royal Infirmary Edinburgh Pelican Badge

She enjoyed working as a nurse and particularly loved the excitement of the Accident and Emergency Department and her time in Midwifery at the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion.

I found a blog by a group collecting oral histories from current and retired Royal Infirmary nurses, inspired by a collection of over 3000 historical nursing badges.  Earlier this year they held a Bring a Badge day where nurses who had trained in Edinburgh travelled back to meet up and show their badges.  I wonder how many of mum’s friends were there.  Reading about the badges I found out that the pelican was chosen to represent the nurses’ hard work and dedication as pelicans were known to feed their young on their own blood when food was scarce.  There’s more to read about Pelican Symbolism.  Somehow, I’ve managed to make the leap from a health visitor to religious symbolism – how did that happen?  :-)

See what everyone else is up to with their diverse and interesting Sepia Saturday posts.


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Sepia Saturday 102 – fish

In keeping with Alan’s great Sepia Saturday photo of a shop selling, amongst other things, fresh fish, I think the nearest I can get to being on theme this week is this photo from Great Granny’s Album of my great grandfather, James Stewart, fishing at Loch Earn in Perthshire.  It was 7 July 1928 and they were staying at the Lochearnhead Hotel.

Like her Dad, Granny was a competent fisherwoman (not to be confused with a fishwife) and often came home with more fish/bigger fish than my grandfather did, much to his disdain.

My Dad inherited the fondness for fishing and had a small 16′ boat with an outboard motor which he kept on a loch near the North Coast of Scotland.  I was only in it once – when it was delivered to our home – and I sat in it on the trailer, not the water.  Accompanying Dad on his fishing trips meant promising to sit quietly in the boat from early morning till whenever he got fed up – as a teenager, I couldn’t have committed to that and probably still couldn’t now .  Even Ben, the black labrador, once got so bored that he jumped out of the boat and swam to the shore, ruining the rest of the day’s fishing.  He wasn’t invited again.  Mum used to entertain herself by reading or knitting, or if it was sunny (not so good for fishing) sunbathing.  Dad wore an old sweatshirt or jumper and waterproofs when fishing, unlike his Grandpa James in his shirt, tie and waistcoat :-)

Tight lines!


Check out other participants’ old photos at Sepia Saturday – you might have one of your own to post :-)

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Sepia Saturday 101

This week Alan’s Sepia Saturday post shows the front cover of a 1930 Chevrolet brochure, so I wondered if I had some appropriate vehicle photos in Great Granny’s album – I thought I might have used them all in a previous Cars post (including a car made in Scotland by women for women) and found this

the buffoon on the right has Granny's hat on!

the buffoon on the right has Granny's hat on!

This is the Galloway saloon made by women, but look – curtains in the back!  More information on the Galloway can be found on on the Old Classic Car website.  Noted on the back of the photo is “Hovingham Sept 1928″ – Alan’s neck of the woods.

This vintage tourer seems to have been just the job for touring as here we have it again, this time the note on the back says “The Trossachs Road 21/22 Sep 1928″

I wonder if the driver is the same man – he’s wearing plus 4’s as in the previous photo, which makes me think he was a huntin’ shootin’ type.  The trousers remind me of a corny Scottish postcard from my childhood, which they probably still sell today.  It showed a cartoon of a hunter proudly returning from the hill with a stag which he had killed.  Someone asks “Did you shoot him in the Trossachs?” and he replies “No, right between the eyes”.  GROAN!

For other similar posts, nip along to Sepia Saturday and see what’s going on, or why not post one of your own?  It doesn’t have to be Sepia, just share one of your old photos with us.

PS:  Wordpress have just congratulated me on my 50th post – have I really gassed on so much? :-)

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#Sepia Saturday 100th post celebrations

Alan who hosts Sepia Saturday, and the various contributors, are celebrating the 100th Sepia Saturday post today – Hurray!  We’re all looking forward to the next 100 too :-)

Trying to keep with the theme of “100”, I rummaged in my family tree to see how many of my ancestors lived to that ripe old age.  Disappointingly, only one – my 3 x Great Grandfather, John Stewart, was born in 1796 and died in 1897 in Ayrshire aged 101.  He was a farmer at Overmuir Farm, and was also Tree-Climbing Granny‘s great grandfather.

My newly discovered relative in Canada had a visit from other relations on Monday so I emailed some pictures over, and they very kindly emailed me some back this week.  I haven’t seen this photo of Granny’s parents before, so I’m terribly excited to have a copy.

James Cameron Stewart and Janet Christian HardieThanks to Janet and Douglas for sharing this (and other photos) with me.  Isn’t Chris’s hat spectacular?  Her skirt seems to have some kind of decoration (probably not gravy, like if it had been me) and the sleeves of her jacket are very ornate.  A very smart couple indeed!


SEPIA SATURDAY is a weekly meme which encourages bloggers to publish and share old images and photographs. All that is required is for contributors to post an old image (it doesn’t have to be in sepia) and provide a few words in explanation. If you could provide a link back to the Sepia Saturday Blog and visit as many of the other contributors as you can, it would also be appreciated

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#Sepia Saturday 99 – Glamorous Granny (no, not busty blonde mother of 6)

In the infamous( (I like to think) album, I found this photo of Granny (on the right – a vision in blue) and her nameless chum, being terribly sensible compared to previous photos.  This photo has been converted into a postcard, although it was never posted and there’s nothing on the back.  I don’t have any musical relatives (or any photos of them being musical) and no relatives who were pictured sitting on barrels, so I’ve gone my own way, as I do…

Glad to see that Granny has a hanky at hand, just in case.  The young lady on the left must have been a significant part of Granny’s life, as she appears in another postcard, looking equally elegant in the snow.  Well, at least you can’t see her grey socks and lace-ups in the following one, and she has a cute canine accessory.

Through the wonders of T’interweb, I have made contact with a “cousin” in Canada, and she has yet another cousin visiting next week, so hopefully I’ll be able to share Granny’s pictures with folk who have their own relatives starring in them :-D

Hurray for the Interweb :-)  I can hardly wait!

SEPIA SATURDAY is a weekly meme which encourages bloggers to publish and share old images and photographs. All that is required is for contributors to post an old image (it doesn’t have to be in sepia) and provide a few words in explanation. If you could provide a link back to the Sepia Saturday Blog and visit as many of the other contributors as you can, it would also be appreciated. There is no weekly theme, as such, but some people like to use the archive image published with the weekly call as a kind of theme. There is no requirement to adopt such an approach : the choice of image is entirely up to you. Once you have published your Sepia Saturday post, add a link to that post to the Linky List published each week and leave a comment to let everyone know you are joining in.

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