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November 2, 2009 06:49 - November Highland Games & Festivals

If you are planning a Scottish Wedding Theme ~ or would just plain like a good dose of Scottishness, get to one of these Highland Games.

At most of the events, you can find local bagpipers to hire or browse tartan sample books. There's always lots of kilts and outfits, everywhere from formal to very casual, to look at.


Stepping Out courtesy Clip Art

Clan tents have information on your clan's history. The music runs from traditional to rock. And there's lots of Scottish traditions and food to sample. And especially for the ladies, lots of Scottish wares to browse and buy.


Ladies Shopping property Scottish Wedding Dreams

You'll notice Irish Festivals and Parades listed. They're Celtic also. Don't forget the Highland Celts came from Ireland and the Scot fled to Ireland's Plantations, then moved on the Americas and Australia. So go find am event and join in the fun!

  • October 16 to November 1, Liverpool, England ~ Liverpool Irish Festival
  • November 2, Castle Hill, New South Wales, Australia ~ Combined Scottish Societies Highland Gathering
  • November 6 to 8, Tucson, Arizona ~ Tucson Celtic Festival and Scottish Highland Games
  • November 6 to 8, Beechworth, Victoria, Australia ~ Beechworth Celtic Festival
  • November 7, Hendersonville, North Carolina ~ Foothills Highland Games
  • November 7 to 8, Austin, Texas ~ Austin Celtic Festival
  • November 13 to 15, Salado, Texas ~ Scottish Clan Gathering & Highland Games
  • November 13 to 15, Timonium, Maryland ~ Baltimore Irish Festival
  • November 14 to 15, Gulfport, Mississippi ~ Scottish Highland Games and Celtic Music Festival
  • November 21, Dunedin, Florida ~ Dunedin Celtic Festival
  • November 21, Armadale, Western Australia, Australia ~ Armadale Highland Gathering and Cycle Classic
  • November 27 to 29, Dumfries, Scotland ~ MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards 2009
  • November 30, Concord, New Hampshire ~ Gala Scottish Concert

For more detailed information about the listed events, go to

Tomorrow, one more article about POSH and one of the best old time musicians in the British Isles…

November 3, 2009 06:51 - Another Tidbit About POSH

Back in October, the 12th through the 15th, the blogs were about the term "P.O.S.H.", it's origins, and the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Well, lo and behold, I was researching Appalachian words and music and ran across a connection with Reg Hall, a historian at Essex University. Reg recorded folk ballads during the 1950's, as Francis Child had compiled them back in the late 19th century.

Among those Reg Hall recorded was Scan Tester who played the concertina, danced and sang. Born in 1886, Scan left school early to earn money for his family. He had learned to step-dance at his father's pub, The Green Man. Scan played at wedding, harvest suppers, and pubs.

While in the hop fields of Kent, he found he could earn more money playing and dancing than he could by pulling hops. After World War I, Scan formed a "jazz band", which meant a country dance band with a full drum kit. He also hired rooms and taught the dance steps ~ including quadrilles, schottisches, and polkas ~ before the dance started.

As one of the last to play old-time tunes, Scan also performed at the Stone Quarry pub in his hometown, Chelwood Gate, East Sussex, England.

Reg Hall met Scan in 1957, which means Scan was in his 70's. Through Reg's influence, Scan played at the Royal Festival Hall and the posh hotels. Reg also ran a folk club at The Fox in Islington, London, where Scan frequently played. All told, Reg recorded 51 of Scan's tunes and compiled them into I Never Played To Many Posh Dances.


Scan Tester's Interview Cover courtesy Music Traditions

Scan died in 1972, at the age of 86.

Coming tomorrow, more about Scan Tester and Reg Hall…

November 4, 2009 06:53 - The Reg Hall's Anthologies

Yesterday I wrote about Scan Tester, his musical career, and Reg Hall's promoting Scan. Read more about Scan Tester in this Musical Traditions article.

Reg Hall compiled The Voice of the People, an anthology of folk songs as sung by traditional singers of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. There are 511 recordings of songs passed down by oral tradition. These were recorded on portable tape recorders. For the most part, the singers were popular within their own communities, but little known elsewhere. They all led working class lives.

In light of the Scottish wedding theme, three of the volumes caught my eye ~ Come Let Us Buy the Licence, Tonight I'll Make You My Bride, and As Me and My Love Sat Courting.

For those with a keener interest, Wikipedia has an article about The Voice of the People, including a partial list of the songs.

Any of the 20 CD's can be ordered from Veteran, a traditional folk music label.

A PDF transcription of the 1990 BBC's Radio Brighton interview of Reg Hall, by Vic Smith, telling about I Never Played Too Many Posh Dances can be downloaded from Music Traditions.

Coming tomorrow, Tartan and Scottish pottery...

November 5, 2009 06:54 - Thistle Pottery

I just stumbled across this line of pottery from Tain, located in Ross-shire, Scotland. One of their patterns is named Glenaldie and features Scottish thistles.


Glenaldie Pottery courtesy Tain Pottery

Among their offerings are the egg cups, tea pots, tea cups, mugs, jugs, jars, vases, salt and pepper shakers, cheese domes, dishes, trenchers, tureens, bowls, lamps, and candlesticks.

I was particularly impressed by the Tatties and Neeps bowl, which is promoted for Robert Burns dinners. The beginning of the traditional Address to the Haggis is hand painted around the rim. It reads, "'Fair Fa Your Honest, Sonsie Face, Great Chieftain o' the Puddin' Race.'

Tatties n Neeps Dish courtesy Tain Pottery

As used in the address, sonsie basically means chubby, while puddin' means sausage.

For those who aren't familiar with Neeps n Tatties, that's just plain old mashed turnips and potatoes, fixed like you'd fix mashed potatoes. Turnips and potatoes became staples for livestock and commoners, particularly during periods of economic depression.

Coming tomorrow, more about the lowly turnip and more Tain Pottery…

November 6, 2009 06:56 - More About Neeps & Tain Pottery

Before you go turning your nose up at the lowly turnip, take a look at this historic marker in Westport, Massachusetts.

Westport Marker courtesy Wikipedia

Going even further back, this heraldic shield features a turnip charge. It was used by Leonhard von Keutschach, Prince-Archbisop of Salzburg in the early 16th century. It's still in use today in the Keutschach am See coat of arms.


Wappen-at-keutschach-am-see arms courtesy Wikipedia

Continuing with the Tain Potter patterns ~ for those more inclined toward Italian food, the line includes a pasta dish.

If you'd like some tartan pottery, the same pieces are offered in Buchanan, Forbes, and Robertson tartans.


Buchanan Pie Plate courtesy Tain Pottery

Other patterns offered by the pottery is Scotsburn which features wild blackberries, Struie featuring a stag, Shandwick featuring shellfish, Kirksheaf with wildflowers, and Cromartie with what I assume to be whales.

You can order directly from Tain Pottery in Scotland.

The Glenaldie and tartan patterns can be ordered state-side from Scottish Gourmet USA at Scottish Gourmet USA.

Scottish Gourmet USA also has other merchandise you might be interested in…but that's for Monday.

November 9, 2009 15:40 - Scottish Gourmet USA

Scottish Gourmet is an online specialty shop that imports Scottish merchandise. Here are a few of their offerings ~

Designed by the Girls from Glasgow that own the Willow Tea Room, they offer an apron, tea towel and oven mitt that depict the Legend of St. Mungo, patron saint of Glasgow, in a classic Blue Willow motif. With the pattern you will find the fish that never swam, the bell that never rang, the bird that never flew and the tree that never grew. [read more about St. Mungo and his miracles tomorrow]


Blue Willow St. Mungo Kitchen Set
courtesy Scottish Gourmet USA

Other offerings from Scottish Gourmet USA are ~

  • Flower of Scotland Seasoning for Pork, Poultry, and Game



    Flower of Scotland Meat Seasoning courtesy Scottish Gourmet USA



  • Rhubarb Ginger Preserves



    Rhubarb Ginger Preserves courtesy Scottish Gourmet USA



  • Rory the Piper Wine stopper



    Rory the Wine stopper courtesy Scottish Gourmet USA



  • Scottish Heather Salts



    Scottish Heather Salts courtesy Scottish Gourmet USA


To order any of these items from Scottish Gourmet USA or browse their website.

Coming tomorrow, more about St. Mungo and his miracles…

November 10, 2009 04:50 - St. Mungo of Glasgow

Claimed as the patron saint of Glasgow, he is commonly called Saint Mungo. Derived from the Gaelic my-nghu, Mungo is a pet name meaning 'dear one'. In Welsh, he is Kentigern derived from Cyndeyrn, meaning 'chief prince'. In Latin, his name is Cantigernus.

Mungo's mother, Thenaw, was the daughter of a Brythonic king. Thenaw was seduced by Owain mab Urien. Learning of her pregnancy, her father had her thrown from the heights of Traprain Law.


Traprain Law courtesy Wikipedia

Before the 18th century, Traprain Law was known by locals as Dunpendyrlaw, while the fishermen who used the hill as a landmark called it Dunpelder. It appears to have been a hill fort, possibly where her father reigned.

Anyway, Thenaw survived the fall. Next she was placed in a coracle on the River Forth.


River Coracles in Wales courtesy Wikipedia

Thenaw drifted across the Forth to Culross, where she delivered Mungo.

Saint Serf, who ministered to the local Picts, raised Mungo. At the age of 25, Mungo began his own missionary work on the River Clyde, where the Molendinar Burn flowed in. The site is now called Glasgow.

Due to a strong anti-Christian movement in Strathclyde, Mungo left and went to Wales. Later a new king of Strathclyde invited Mungo to return. For a number of years, Mungo was at Hoddom in Dumfriesshire. Eventually he returned to Glasgow and a large community grew up around him. They were known as Clas-gu, meaning dear family.

Tomorrow, read more about St. Mungo…

November 11, 2009 05:08 - St. Mungo and His Miracles

Mungo is remembered for performing 4 religious miracles in Glasgow. Children are taught a verse to remember these miracles.

Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the fish that never swam

The bird is about Mungo restoring life to Saint Serf's pet robin. A group of Mungo's classmates killed the robin, planning to place the blame on Mungo.

Mungo was left to tend a fire in Saint Serf's monastery. Falling asleep, Munlet the fire go out. When he woke up, he went outside and took branches from a tree and rekindled the fire. Thus the tree that never grew.

The bell was used in services and to mourn the deceased. Legend claims Mungo had brought the bell from Rome, though his trip to Rome is thought to be only legendary. A replacement bell was cast in the 1640's and is on display in Glasgow.

The fish refers to a story about Queen Languoreth of Strathcllyde. Her husband, King Riderch, suspected her of infidelity. The king demanded to see her ring, claiming she had given it to her lover. Actually, the king had thrown the ring into the River Clyde. The queen asked Mungo for help. He ordered a messenger to catch a fish in the river. When the fish was cut open, there lay the ring.

There is an almost identical story about King Maelgwn of Gwynedd and Saint Asaph.

Even today, the Glasgow coat of arms portrays the bishop and a shield showing the robin, bell, fish and tree of his 4 miracles.


Glasgow Coat of Arms courtesy Wikipedia

Coming tomorrow, Glasgow Cathedral and Glasgow's motto…

November 12, 2009 06:09 - Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow's Motto, and J.K. Rowling

Over time a shrine and cathedral were built where Mungo served as bishop. His shrine became a center of pilgramage until the Scottish Reformation. Today the cathedral is known as the High Kirk of Glasgow, St. Kentigern's, and St. Mungo's.


Glasgow Cathedral courtesy Wikipedia

Sir Walter Scott has given us a fine account of the church in Rob Roy, chapter 20.

A festival and feast, celebrating Saint Mungo, is held on January 13th, the date of his death.

Glasgow's motto Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of His word and the praising of His name was inspired by the words of Mungo. Over time this was shortened and more secular motto has become Let Glasgow flourish.

J.K. Rowlings, who is of Scottish heritage, has also honored his name in her Harry Potter series. The wizard hospital in London is named St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies.

If you ever hear of a sound system from Glasgow, called Mungo's Hi Fi, it was named after Saint Mungo.

Coming next, a series of gowns, featuring ruffles…

November 13, 2009 05:22 - This Season's Ruffled Dresses

Coming for the next week are a series of latest fashion dresses. I found them online and, of course, began seeing how their stylishness could be adapted to wedding gowns, both for the bride and her bridal party.

All the gowns feature feminine ruffles, which are once again in fashion. These creative gowns show various ways to ruffle. They're all very feminine, without being gushy. All are sophisticated and stylish, without the ruffles appearing frumpish.

For our purposes in a Scottish theme wedding, various combinations of a silk or a fine woolen tartan, with solid color silks, could give you a unique, very contemporary gown that would make a strong Scottish statement.

Unless you're looking for a knee-length gown, any of these designs could be extended to tea-length, ankle length, or floor length. With some thought and creativity the Ella Moss dress name Lia, the Laila Azhar dress, the Marc Jacobs Dancing Lights, and the Mochino dress could even have a wedding train attached.

Monday, the first gown is Lia, with impressive side ruffle…

November 16, 2009 07:45 - Lia With One Impressive Ruffle

The first gown is Lia by Ella Moss.


Lia by Ella Moss courtesy Shopbop

The side ruffles conceals a zipper. Lengthened to tea length, it could be a stunning bridesmaid dress. At ankle to floor length, the dress could be worn by the bride or her party. A train, repeating the side ruffle could be attached, with the dress and train ruffles edged in tartan.

In a fine silk tartan or light-weight woolen tartan, the dress would be stunning. It could be all of tartan, tartan with the ruffle in a main color of the tartan, or plain with a tartan ruffle ~ if you're not quite up to donning a whole dress of tartan.

If you have two coordinating tartans you'd like to use, you could do a double ruffle, each a different tartan, with one a little narrower.

Tomorrow, another ruffled dress…

November 17, 2009 10:58 - The Sizzling Haute Hippie Gown

The Haute Hippie Dress, shown in this season's sizzling hot pink, is another dress with many possibilities. The dress features a scoop-neck with 1 ½ inch shoulder straps, and tiered asymmetrical ruffles.


Haute Hippie Dress courtesy Shopbop

Again a bridal gown could be sewn in silk or light-weight woolen tartan, often called Spring weight.

Just the top ruffle and shoulder straps could be of tartan, with the remainder of the gown in a solid color silk. Or the top ruffle could be a solid color, with the remainder of the gown in tartan ruffles. Yet another idea would be to edge each ruffle with a tartan. For the truly daring or for those who choose to carry a greater degree of panache, the whole gown could be of tartan ruffles. Or each ruffle could be lined with tartan.

If your bridesmaids are wearing tartan, and you're wearing a solid color, on the edges of the ruffles you could add a decorative stitch in a color, or colors, picked up from their tartan.

Tomorrow, a Genesis Blue ruffled gown will be featured…

November 18, 2009 08:10 - A Ruffled Genesis Blue Gown

Next is the Laila Azhar Ruffles Mini Dress with a sweetheart neckline. There is boning at the bust, a hidden side zipper, and a cutout seam detail at the back. The color shown is this season's Genesis blue. Spaghetti straps or shirred off-the-shoulder straps could add a little more security.


Genesis Blue Dress courtesy Shopbop

The entire dress could be of tartan. Or the top, down through the ruffle could be tartan with a solid skirt. Reversing this combination, with a solid ruffle and a tartan skirt is another possibility.

Another idea is a 1 to 3 inch band of tartan around the bottom of the ruffle, with the bodice and skirt in a solid color. Or a solid bodice, with the tartan band on the ruffle, and a tartan skirt could be worn.

Attached to the rear waistline, a train could be attached, using any of the combinations suggested above.

Coming tomorrow, another lovely fashion gown…

November 19, 2009 08:00 - Dancing Lights and The Chic and Cheap

No, it's not a song or movie title, just two lovely dresses that could be adapted for wedding gowns.

Marc Jacob's Dancing Lights is a simpler gown with the ruffles just on the bodice and a peplum waist design.


Marc Jacobs Dancing Lights Dress courtesy Shopbop

Adapting this gown to be more Scottish could be simply doing the bodice ruffles in tartan, while leaving the peplum and skirt in a solid silk. Again, just edging the ruffles with tartan would be subtle and Scottish. If a train were added, it could be in a solid, also edged and lined in tartan.

The Mochino gown also offers numerous possibilities. Though labeled chic and cheap, it's not cheap, merely inexpensive, possibly due to its simplicity.


Moschino Dress courtesy Shopbop

Just the ruffle could be tartan with a solid color gown. Or reversing this combination would give you a solid color ruffle with a tartan gown. If the ruffle were a solid color, it could be lined or edged with tartan. Either way, the ruffle could be repeated in a peplum, extending into a train.

Tomorrow, Blushing, another ruffled fashion gown…

November 20, 2009 07:54 - Blushing, Feminine Ruffles

The Larok Blushing Ruffle also offers some choices for a feminine, ruffled gown. Shown in this season's Runway Color Grendel, the subtle plum color adds to the overall feminine quality of the dress.


Larok Blushing Ruffle Dress courtesy Shopbop

The same understated, subtle quality of the dress could be achieved with one of the softer colored tartan. Not so subtle, would be a combination of coordinating tartans.

The entire gown of tartan is of course a first idea. A solid color with just the top ruffle in tartan would create a more subtle statement of your Scottishness. As would just edging each ruffle with tartan.

For the bolder bride, all the ruffles in tartan, with the bodice and skirt in a solid color, would be unique. With the hemline extended to a longer length, the ruffles could stop above the knee as shown, or continue down to the hemline.

With any of these gowns, if the main part of the ensemble is a solid color, tartan shoes could be worn.

Coming Monday, one last ruffled gown…

November 23, 2009 12:26 - Twelfth Street Gown

For a final sample of ruffled sophistication, this lush pink dress with its multiple, criss-crossed pairs of ruffles would be a beautiful choice. The sweetheart neckline adds to the femininity of the ruffles. A very narrow edge of tartan could be added along the neckline.


Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent Dress courtesy Shopbop

For a Scottish theme wedding, the bodice, first row of ruffles, and the skirt below the last ruffles could be of a solid color, with the other ruffles in tartan. Or this scheme could be reversed. Again, edging the ruffles in tartan would be a subtle addition. Or, you could line the ruffles with a silk tartan.

A train, ruffled all the way down, lined and edged in tartan would be stunning.

If you'd just like any of these as they were designed, for street wear, they're available from Shopbop.

Starting tomorrow, a new set of Scottish twins and their names…

November 24, 2009 07:51 - A New Set of Twins With Wonderful Names

Last January I wrote a series about Ailsa from January 20 to the 27th, leading up to the naming of a set of twins born in Scotland. They were named Ailsa Aileen and Alex Iona.

The family has birthed another set of twins. These two will be last of their children, for the father died in the Middle East, serving in the military. After his death, his wife chose to complete their family.

As allowed in the U.K., a soldier may have his sperm frozen when he goes to war.
The father left a note for his wife, "We spoke of having five wee ones…as I leave…I have left behind the means to complete our family. Be it boy or girl I leave knowing baby will be raised in the family tradition."

With the older twins having such historical, powerful names, the new set have a lot to look up to and live up to in their older siblings. But, before I give you the new twins names, their meanings and significance also need to be told. So in
the next set of blogs, I'll be writing some background material about their names.

November 25, 2009 09:27 - Andrew ~ What a Famous Name

One twin name that needs to be investigated is Andrew, meaning manly or valor in Greek and Latin. Andrew was also the first apostle called by Jesus Christ [see Mark 1:16 to 18, John 1:40].

Andrew is considered to be a man's man. And Scotland, known for its manliness and sense of valor, has St. Andrew as their patron saint.

How did this come to be?

Andrew was martyred in Petras. Some 300 years later, Emperor Constantine, a converted Christian, ordered Andrew's relics be shipped to Constantinople.

A monk, named Rule or Regulus had a dream telling him to take the relics to the ends of the earth.

Enduring an arduous journey, he became ship-wrecked on the east coast of Scotland. He deemed the spot to be the ends of the earth. Thus St. Andrew's relic came to Scotland.

In the 8th century, St. Andrew's bishopric was founded, with work on the cathedral beginning in 1158 and continuing for over a century.

PLEASE NOTE: I'm traveling to help our son's family move to a new home. I'll be on the road for a few days, then back in the mountains of Tennessee. Though they plan to have an online connection at their new home, it's in the country, and, who knows. To quote our favorite Scotsman, Robert Burns, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley". Or in the common venacular, "__it happens!" Or as Murphy's Law has so aptly put it, "If something can go wrong, it will!"

Circumstances permitting, I will resume posting the Monday after Thanksgiving, November 30th. Otherwise, I will resume the following week, when I return home.

Monday, November 30th, read about St. Andrew's Day around the world…

November 30, 2009 12:14 - St. Andrews Day

People of Scottish heritage celebrate St. Andrews Day around the world. Estimates claim 100,000,000 people who have resulted from the Scots Diaspora. Rising from within these ranks, St. Andrews Societies span the globe.

Across the U.S.A., Australia, and Canada, as well as the exotic lands of Java, Bangkok, and Singapore, people gather. They dance a reel to the "Dashing White Sergeant", drink a dram or two of Usquebagh, and sing a few Scottish ballads.

A modern day Schenachy may weave a Sgeulachd, either a traditional story or one of his own making, or entertain with a Sgeulachd bheag, or anecdote.

And, of course, the bagpipies will skirl out their eerie, majestic tones, calling one and all back to the moors.

In St. Andrews they really do it up right, with a week long celebration.


St. Andrews Day Parade courtesy Scotland Organization

In honor of the Stone of Destiny being returned to Edinburgh Castle, since 1996 the castle opens it's doors freely on St. Andrew's Day, so all can view the historic stone.

Here's some of the celebrations from around the world ~

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Darwin, Australia
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Baku, Azerbaijan annual ball
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada annual ball
  • Montpelier, France annual gala ball
  • Milan, Italy dinner dance
  • The Hague, Netherlands annual ball
  • Bangkok, Thailand annual ball
  • Manhattan, New York Magners Glasgow International Comedy Festival

There are many other locations, these were selected as the unusual or unexpected locations.

Tomorrow, the December Highland Games…

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