Category Archives: Scotland

Jif Lemon Day!

If  you are American, today is Mardi Gras.  If you are Catholic, today is the day before Lent.  If you are British, today is Shrove Tuesday, better known as Pancake Day!  OK, technically the same as Shrove Tuesday, but let’s skirt over technicalities here.

I have often wondered why I have never heard the term ‘Shrove Tuesday’ here.  Wikipedia set me straight:

Shrove Tuesday is a term used in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia for the day preceding the first day of the Christian season of fasting and prayer called Lent.

The word shrove is the past tense of the English verb shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of confession and doing penance. Thus Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the shriving that English Christians were expected to do prior to receiving absolution immediately before Lent begins. Shrove Tuesday is the last day of “shrovetide”, somewhat analogous to the carnival tradition that developed separately in countries of Latin Europe. The term “Shrove Tuesday” is no longer widely known in the United States outside of Liturgical Traditions, such as the Lutheran, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic Churches.  Because of the increase in many immigrant populations and traditions since the 19th century “Mardi Gras” is much more widely-used.

The festival is widely associated with the eating of foods such as pancakes, and often known simply as Pancake Day, originally because these used up ingredients such as fat and eggs, the consumption of which was traditionally restricted during Lent.

Like most other traditions (like how Americans eat corned beef on St. Paddy’s Day, even though the Irish never have.  When the great famine occurred and they fled Ireland and landed in America, bacon was too expensive to eat with their cabbage  — known as Bubble and Squeak, btw — so they adopted the Jewish tradition of eating the beef instead.  Never let it be said you don’t learn something when you come here), protocol is dropped, and regardless of your religious affiliation or not, everyone makes pancakes for dinner tonight.

Pancakes aren’t just looked upon as a breakfast staple in the UK, in fact, you can eat pancakes anytime you want, and you don’t even have to give the excuse of having ‘breakfast for dinner’ to do it either.  I used to love stopping by the local bakery on my way to work, and ask for a buttered pancake.  It was such a good treat.

Growing up, my mum made two types of pancakes, the thinner, more crepe-like version (served with sugar and (jif) lemon juice), and the other hockey-puck thick version.  My mum’s are much sweeter than my husband is used to.

n.b.  my mum uses a coffee/tea mug to measure out the ingredients.  Aye, I know.  So, when I say cup, I mean MUG.

Pancakes

1 cup sugar
4 – 4.5 cups of flour
pinch of salt
pinch of baking powder
3 eggs
20 fl. oz milk (a British pint)

Combine everything in a large bowl, adding the flour last, gradually.

Makes: emm . . . a lot.

Here’s a great recipe for crepes:

1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine flour, milk, eggs, and oil.  Add salt.  Heat a lightly greased 6 inch skillet; remove from heat.  Spoon in 2 Tbsp batter; lift and tilt skillet to spread evenly.  Return to heat; brown on one side only.  To remove, invert pan over paper towel.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Fill with your favourite filling.

Makes 7.

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Photo Hunt: Nautical

The top two were taken by my hubs on a Summer Scout Camp last summer.  I miss the sun!  The bottom two were taken in Scotland: The one huge grey rain cloud in the sky was probably a dead giveaway . . .

nautical

T13: There’s No Pleasing Everyone


1. Scotland: I miss sausage rolls, cheese & onion pasties and bridies.
America: I’d miss banana cream pies from Marie Callendar’s.
sausage-rolls
2. Scotland: Sometimes, all I want is a decent curry and naan.
America: I’d miss some decent Mexican food.

3.  Scotland: I miss Tesco/Morrison’s, Boots and M&S.
America: I’d miss Target, Pottery Barn and Whole Foods.

4.  Scotland:  I don’t miss the 17.5% VAT (vat=value added tax.  VALUE?!)
America:  I’m tired of paying to see the doctor and pay for prescriptions.

5.  Scotland:  I miss not getting hit by a car because we don’t have right-turn-on-red.
America:  I’d miss being able to get off at an exit (junction) and looping back on, going the opposite way.

6.  Scotland:  I miss referring to paper in A1-A6 sizes.
America:  I like the wider paper here.

7.  Scotland:  I miss reading temps in Celsius.
America:  I’m glad I don’t have to measure in kg and g, since I left right after the conversion from lb/oz.

8.  Scotland:  I miss the salt air, even the rain.
America:  I’d miss the perpetual sunshine.

9.  Scotland:  I miss Tizer, Lilt, strong ginger beer and Red Cola  (it’s red, but not a cola).
America:   I thought I had given up soda?

10.  Scotland:  I’m missing out on DVRs recording onto blank discs.
America:  I’d miss standing on a plug and not breaking my neck or foot.  (That was all I could think of).

11.  Scotland:  I miss perpetual green grass.
America:  I’d miss the variations in typography and environment.

12.  Scotland:  I miss castles, historic sites and buildings over 400 years old.
America:  I don’t have a comeback for that.

13.   Scotland:  I miss public transport.
America:  I wish houses in Scotland/The UK were bigger.

Remember when I wrote the post on creating my own country?  I realised the answer is staring me in the face!  I’m moving to Canada . . . you know, cos the first stint with immigration was so good, I’d like to do it again.

A Man’s A Man For A’ That

Today is not technically a holiday in Scotland, but a night of celebration, and therefore a National Day where we commemorate the life of our beloved poet, song-writer (and flagrant womaniser), Robert Burns.  This year also happens to be the 250th anniversary of the birth of ‘The Bard’.

robert-burnsThe day is celebrated with Burns Suppers around the world, and is in fact, and still more widely observed than the official national day of Scotland, St. Andrew’s Day (or the proposed North American celebration Tartan Day).  Although the date of the original Burns Night was set on 18th July, the date of his death, and was later changed to 25th January, it’s amazing to think that the format of Burns Suppers has not changed since his untimely death in 1796 at the age of 37.

No doubts about it, tartan and kilts abound this night.  It’s a fiercely patriotic night, and very entertaining.  If there’s one thing you should know about the Scots: We know how to throw a good party.

The evening begins with a general welcome from the host and announcements followed with the Selkirk Grace.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.

The supper then starts with a Scottish soup, either as Scotch Broth or potato soup (shock, horror) or Cock-a-Leekie is served.

Everyone then stands for the main course where a bagpiper heralds in the entrance of the haggis which is presented on a large serving dish usually brought in by one of the cooks (it’s all taken very seriously at this point and almost feels like a regal affair), where it is then brought to the host’s table ushered by the piper.  An appointed reciter or the host then gives Robert’s famous Address to a Haggis and the haggis is cut open with one deep cut from end to end. The haggis is served with ‘neeps and tatties’ — Swede, or yellow turnip and (mashed) potatoes shortly after the haggis is presented.

A guest then gives a short speech called the Immortal Memory, remembering some aspects of Burns’ life or poetry.  This is usually either light-hearted, intensely serious or a bit of both. The speaker should always prepare a speech with his audience in mind, since above all, the Burns’ supper should be entertaining.

Everyone then drinks a toast to Robert Burns.

After dinner, another speaker stands and gives a Toast to the Lassies. This was originally a short speech given by a male guest in thanks to those women who had prepared the meal.  However these days it is much more wide ranging, and generally covers the male speaker’s view on women.  It is normally amusing but should never be offensive, particularly bearing in mind that it will be followed by a reply from the “lassies” concerned.  The men drink a toast to the women’s health.

When I was around 18 or 19, I gave the Reply to the Toast to the Lassies.  Much the same as the mens’ toast, but can also include a satirical rebuttal to anything the other has said.  I don’t remember much of what I did say, but what I do recall is one joke:

“How do you tell the difference between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day?  Well, they’re pretty much the same, except with Father’s Day, you won’t spend so much.”

If any other toasts are called upon, this is when it generally happens.

After the speeches, there’s usually a lot of singing and recital of some of Burns’ literary work.  One of my all-time favourites that I first heard from my teacher in primary school was Tam O’Shanter.  I even recall that we made a huge freeze that we displayed on our classroom wall depicting the story.

After, there may be Scottish dancing, like a Ceilidh, if time and venue permits, although this isn’t a traditional part of the evening, but still very much accepted.  Finally the host winds the night up, calling upon one of the guests to give the vote of thanks, after which everyone is asked to stand, join hands, and sing another of his well-known songs, Auld Lang Syne which brings the evening to a close.

Address to a Haggis, with some translation, thanks to wikipedia:

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,           sonsie = cheeky
Great chieftain o’ the puddin-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,          aboon = above
Painch, tripe, or thairm:                         painch = stomach, thairm = intestine
Weel are ye wordy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,              hurdies = hips
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o’ need,
While thro’ your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dicht, dicht=wipe, here w/the idea of sharpening
An’ cut you up wi’ ready slicht,          slicht = skill
Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich!                                   reeking = steaming

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an’ strive:
Deil tak the hindmaist! on they drive,   deil = devil
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve,  wall’d=swollen, kytes=bellies, belyve=soon
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,  rive = tear, i.e. burst
“Bethankit” hums.

Is there that o’re his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,                      olio = olive oil, staw = make sick
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi’ perfect scunner,                                    scunner = repugnance
Looks down wi’ sneering, scornfu’ view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him ower his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;                                  nieve = fist, nit = louse’s egg, i.e. tiny
Thro’ bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his wallie nieve a blade                 wallie = mighty, nieve = fist
He’ll mak it whistle;
An’ legs an’ arms, an’ heads will sned,     sned = cut off
Like taps o’ thristle.                                      thristle = thistle

Ye Pow’rs wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o’ fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinkin ware     skinkin ware = watery soup
That jaups in luggies;     jaups = slops about, luggies = two-handled bowls
But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a haggis!

Burns was one of the very few who wrote in the Scots tongue.

Golden Telephone

An American decided to write a book about famous churches around the world.

He bought a plane ticket and took a trip to Orlando, thinking that he would start by working his way across the USA from South to North.

On his first day he was inside a church taking photographs when he noticed a golden telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read ‘$10,000 per call’.

The American, being intrigued, asked a priest who was strolling by what the telephone was used for.  The priest replied that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 you could talk to God.

The American thanked the priest and went along his way.

Next stop was in Atlanta. There, at a very large cathedral, he saw the same looking golden telephone with the same sign under it.

He wondered if this was the same kind of telephone he saw in Orlando and he asked a nearby nun what its purpose was.   She told him that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 he could talk to God.

‘OK, thank you,’ said the American.

He then travelled all across America, Africa, England, Japan, New Zealand.  In every church he saw the same looking golden telephone with the same ‘$US10,000 per call’ sign under it.

The American decided to travel to Scotland to see if Scots had the same phone.

He arrived in Scotland and again, in the first church he entered, there was the same looking golden telephone, but this time the sign under it read ’40 pence per call.’

The American was surprised so he asked the priest about the sign.

‘Father, I’ve travelled all over the world and I’ve seen this same golden telephone in many churches.  I’m told that it is a direct line to Heaven, but in all of them the price was $10,000 per call. Why is it so cheap here?’

The priest smiled and answered, ‘You’re in Scotland now, son – it’s a local call’.

Word of the Week

Hogmanay (hog’ma-nay):

The last day of the year, when children traditionally went from house to house asking for presents. It also refers to a small cake given to children on New Year’s day.  More recently it has become a raucous New Year’s Eve party in many Scottish cities.

Usage:  The traditional Hogmanay includes “first footing,” welcoming a tall, dark stranger at the stroke of midnight. First-footers should bring a gift such as uisge beatha “water of life” (Scotch, it’s a drink, not a nationality *snort*), a lump of coal, or a bannock, a simple oat cake. This tradition reaches back to the Viking era, when the blond, blue-eyed Vikings brought only bad luck to whomever they visited. Today groups of friends gather and visit other friends. Whichever party you join this year, look out for the accent on the final syllable of today’s word.

Suggested Usage:
If you would like to add a bit of innovation in your end-of-the-year greetings, try “Merry Christmas and a Happy Hogmanay!” for a change. If you go to the Hogmanay street party in Edinburgh or Glasgow, though, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to hear you.

Etymology:
The sense of “Hogmanay” corresponds to that of Old French aguillanneufau gui l’an neuf! “(kiss) under the New Year’s mistletoe.” Others speculated that “hogmanay” itself comes either from the Anglo-Saxon haleg monath “holy month” or Gaelic oge maidne “new morning.” “the last day of the year, new year’s gift.” In modern French dialects it survives as “aiguilan,” “guilané,” and “guilanneau” but in Normandy it is “hoguignettes” or “hoguinané,” whence it probably invaded Scottish English. The French term survives today in the phrase au gui l’an neuf! “(kiss) under the New Year’s mistletoe.” Others speculated that “hogmanay” itself comes either from the Anglo-Saxon haleg monath “holy month” or Gaelic oge maidne “new morning.”

Hear it.

Word of the Week

lucky bag:barbie-lucky-bag

A bag containing sweets and a cheap toy or gift, as bought by children from sweetie shops.  The point is, the purchaser doesn’t know exactly what is in the bag until it is opened, and the term is often used to disparage something the speaker doesn’t think much of:

“That’s some mobile phone you’ve got there;  get it in a lucky bag, did ya?”

* I suppose the American term for this is Crackerjack box.

Hear my audio.