Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

February – 2023 (Vol. 46, Number 08)

The Maura Gin label by artist Hope Blamire. Image courtesy of the Isle of Cumbrae Distillers.

The Banner Says…

Saying ‘I Do’ to Scotland

If you are like me when I think of Scotland, I think of the incredible amount of natural beauty the country has to offer. It would be very fair to say it is quite a romantic place to visit with incredible vistas, coastlines, history and architecture.

Most cannot help but fall in love with the country, even those there on their own. This month the world will be selling just a few more roses when Valentine’s Day takes place mid-month. Scotland however has been helping lovers from around the world in its very own way for hundreds of years.

Location played a huge role in allowing the Scottish Borders town of Gretna Green to become Britain’s wedding capital, with its romantic history beginning nearly 300 years ago. In 1754, English Parliament passed a law banning people under the age of twenty-one to get married without permission of their parents.

However for those who ventured over the Scottish border, the law did not apply. In Scotland, a much more lenient age of sixteen was law and English couples found themselves flocking to the sleepy border town. To this day, and certainly around Valentine’s Day, many couples from across the globe travel to Gretna Green for wedding and vow renewal ceremonies.

Scottish wedding customs

Thousands of people have also enjoyed taking on some of the unique Scottish wedding customs that have developed over the years. Luckenbooth brooches originated in 16th century Edinburgh and were given by the groom to his bride as a token of both love and luck. The brooch features two hearts entwined together, with a crown on top. The brooches also were said to help ward off witches, and originally were sold in the luckenbooths, a row of tenements near St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile. Today you will still find these being sold across the world.

A favourite of children would have to be the wedding scramble. The father of the bride throws a handful of coins for children to collect just as the bride is climbing into the wedding car to make her way to the church. Children would then scramble to get as many coins as possible and create an atmosphere as the bride sets off, it was also thought doing this would bring financial stability to the newlyweds.

Traditionally a Scottish bride is always found to the left of the groom. This started back when the groom may need his right hand free to use his sword to fight off anyone who may have objected of their union, including in-laws!

Another tradition you will still find at weddings today is the quaich ceremony. A quaich (cuach in Gaelic means cup), or also referred to as a loving cup, is a Scottish traditional two handled cup and has been around in some form for centuries. Each person to marry takes a drink from the often silver or pewter quaich, with their favourite whisky or brandy. The sharing of the drink signifies both the union of two people and families.

In this issue

Think of a distillery in Scotland and of course most would instantly think of the “water of life’, or whisky. However, gin is one of the fastest growing spirits for Scotland and in fact Scotland now produces 70 percent of gin for the UK market. We get a chance to speak this month to one of five women who are behind the Isle of Cumbrae Distillers. Having grown up around many strong women in my life I have no doubt distillers like at Cumbrae will help lead the way to more women, of more ages, entering the drinks industry and I will very happily drink to that!

Eagle eyed travellers who have been on the Edinburgh to Glasgow train service will no doubt have spotted a unique spire as they pass through Linlithgow. The ‘crown of thorns’ spire which sits at the top of St Michael’s Church had local controversy when it was added to the 15th century church in the 1960s. Sadly overtime the modern addition, which has become a symbol for Linlithgow, has fallen victim to the Scottish weather and now needs repair. Perhaps you have caught the spire when in Linlithgow, or just passing on the train, and can help preserve this iconic piece for future generations.

One story that caught my eye this month was Scotland being named ‘Best Golf Destination in the World.’ I do admit I am not a golfer, much to my father’s disappointment, but I was slightly surprised that a country known the world over as the ‘Home of Golf’ has only won this for the first time. With nearly 600 courses across the country and a history of golf in Scotland going back to the 15th century, the industry is said to be worth nearly £300 million to the Scottish economy. Previous winners were Australia, Vietnam and Portugal, so glad to see Scotland being rightly recognised.

The romance of Scotland

Whether or not you are looking for a romantic break with that special someone, maybe getting married or looking to renew your vows, Scotland is certainly a place to consider as
celebrating your heritage and the quirky customs which come with it can be a special thing to do.

For me however it is simply the romance of Scotland itself that lures me each and every time, the majestic Highlands, Edinburgh’s winding streets, the dramatic coastlines and the incredible friendliness of the people.

Scotland can be my Valentine anytime!

Have you been married in Scotland? Do you practice any Scottish wedding traditions? Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

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