January – 2024 (Vol. 47, Number 07)
The Banner Says…
A resolution for a good Ne’erday
It is a question we all get asked this time of the year, “what is your New Year resolution?” As we start a new year fresh with good intentions, and promise of improving ourselves, many of us certainly try and come up with some manageable improvements we would like to see for ourselves.
This global phenomenon of self reflection starts the year with the best of intentions but seems only some will follow through with the mental reset for all of 2024. I actually was not aware it was a woman with strong Scottish connections that started this unique way of wiping the slate clean and starting the year with new goals.
Though the very first known New Year’s resolutions in fact date back over 4,000 years ago to ancient Babylon. The Babylonians are said to have made a pledge to their gods during the 12-day January New Year festival called Akitu. If they fulfilled their pledge the gods would look favourably on them, their crops, animals and family.
However, it was not until 1671 that a New Year resolution was known to be written in Scotland. Anne Halkett was born in England in 1622 to parents from a prominent family of Scottish descent and would eventually herself move to Scotland in 1650. Anne was an educated woman, deeply religious, a talented writer, a mid-wife and part of Scotland’s elite. In January 1671 Anne wrote in her diary a series of religious based pledges which she titled ‘resolutions’. These were lists she made for herself to improve for the year approaching.
This personal pledge would go on to eventually evolve and become a New Year resolution for billions across the globe over hundreds of years. Anne herself would go on to live quite a life and wrote about much of 17th century Scotland and her works can be found at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. She was even involved in the dramatic rescue of James, Duke of York, who later became James II from Parliamentary captivity by disguising him as a female! Anne lived a long life, for those times, and was able to make many resolutions each New Year and died at age 76 in Dunfermline, Fife in 1699.
In this issue
Perhaps one of your New Year resolutions is to travel back to Scotland?! 2024 is looking to be quite a year for both visiting Scotland and for Scottish culture across the world. After a few terrible years for tourism and events we look ahead to 2024’s key happenings, destinations and anniversaries. I hope you get to enjoy some of Scottish culture throughout the year, regardless of if you are visiting Scotland or not.
One part of January tradition must be shortbread. January 6th is in fact National Shortbread Day and shortbread is an icon of Scottish cuisine. There will be many Burns Night celebrations taking place across the world this month (see our events page for one perhaps close to you) and no doubt shortbread will be a part of many of them. We are delighted to have Sir Jim Walker speak to the Scottish Banner this month from Walker’s Shortbread, this family business has an incredible 125 years of history-much to the delight of millions of people’s tastebuds across the world.
Another tradition which will be carried out across the world this Hogmanay and Burns Night is raising a glass to have a wee dram, or two. Whisky is another one of Scotland’s icons and this month we look at the history of Campbeltown, the small town on the Mull of Kintyre peninsula. Campbeltown is a major part of Scotland’s whisky history and has even been referred to as ‘Spiritsville’, ‘Whiskyopolis’ and even the quite prestigious title of ‘The Whisky Capital of the World.’ Though diminished this region still has a proud whisky industry with more distilleries in the works, and I will raise a glass to that!
I have not yet decided whether to honour Anne Halkett and make a resolution for the upcoming year yet, but I am certainly looking to keep my connection to Scotland growing stronger. As 2024 unfolds before us I wish all our readers, advertisers and friends a wonderful happy, healthy and safe year ahead. I also wish all those across the world attending Burns Night events this month a wonderful time celebrating Scotland’s bard Robert Burns.
Whether you make a resolution for the year ahead, or not, may it be a good one for all of us. Lang may your lum reek, as the Scots say traditionally at New Year, or to good health and long life or more literally ‘long may your chimney smoke’.
Do you make New Year resolutions? Do you have any favourite Scottish customs at the festive period? 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
The Scottish Banner is more reliant than ever on our readers helping us to provide you with our unique content by buying a copy of our publication, regardless if by print or digital subscription or at a retail outlet.
We appreciate your support and hope you enjoy this edition.