Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

Gracing our front cover: Playing your heart out at Piping Live! Photo: Piping Live!

August 2018 (Vol. 42, Number 02)

The Banner Says…

The gift of Scotland

Most of us find a connection at some level with our ancestry, whether it be by birth or not, and that obviously holds true to those who read the Scottish Banner. I too was immersed in Scottish culture, heritage and tradition from a young age.

Our family has earned a living from celebrating Scotland with others through ventures such as Scottish cultural events, restaurants, pubs and of course this publication for more than 40 years.

Jim Cairney

As we go to press with this issue I have reflected on my ancestry a bit more than usual as our family mourns the loss of my Father, Jim Cairney. Jim was born in Glasgow in 1931 and grew up in the shadows of his beloved Celtic Park. Dad and his older brother, celebrated actor, author and artist John Cairney, started in humble beginnings with their childhood home later torn down, but those Glasgow beginnings would shape them for life.

As a professional footballer and athlete my Father’s talents took him beyond the city and country he loved so dear and across Britain, Canada and the USA.

Later in life Dad would go on to get into the pub and restaurant business and ran welcoming establishments with a uniquely Scottish theme and friendliness about them. Passing on the gift of Scotland to his three boys was important for my Father, who made sure we knew where he was from, and in turn where we are from.

So much Scottish influence

My Father was also instrumental in getting the Scottish Banner off the ground, he along with his wife Valerie had a unique idea back in the 1970’s to start a publication for the ex-pat Scottish community.

The very first Scottish Banner offices were above a successful Scottish pub and restaurant they ran and whilst Valerie took the paper to where it got to, Jim was there in the early days to see it being born and nurtured. It was only earlier this year that Dad commented how proud he was the Banner was still going, as I am sure their 1976 business plan did not quite take the publication to 2018!

Most times when I would talk to Dad about Glasgow it was with a real sense of pride in a city he loved so much. So much so I knew regardless of where he lived or what he did, he never left Glasgow, he simply brought it with him. Today for me Glasgow is one of my three “home cities” in the world, three locations that the minute I am there they are familiar, have meaning to me and wrap me in complete comfort.

As a child having so much Scottish influence around me was simply part of growing up, with both of my parents running unique Scottish businesses, it was only later I came to realise what a gift it was to be brought up with such a strong Scottish sense of family, community and culture.

It may not have always been fun to get up at the crack of dawn to help at a Highland Games or serve up food at a Burns Supper when you are so young but it certainly shaped me. Not every child gets to be part of their ancient culture year round and today I feel fortunate to carry on the legacy of my parents through the Scottish Banner.

In this issue

There is no country in the world that is more synonymous with the bagpipes than Scotland. They are of course a global instrument but Scotland will forever be the home of the bagpipes. This month the pipes and drums will be that much more on display with some major piping events and contests taking place. We get to speak to Roddy Macleod who is not only the Festival Director of Piping Live! and principal at The National Piping Centre in Glasgow, but a highly celebrated piper himself on the power of the pipes and why they are such a cultural asset to Scotland. We have also run with the pipe band theme this month with some additional piping features showing the power of the pipes reach.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is one of Glasgow’s great sons and the celebration around him in 2018 for the 150thanniversary of his birth shows the influence he has had to Glasgow with “Glasgow Style”. As mentioned in last month’s edition a tragic second fire has ripped through the Mackintosh masterpiece, the Glasgow School of Art. We have reached out to the School and have heard back that they have been inundated with offers of support and will liaise with the Scottish Banner in time as things settle to see if we or our readers can help support this landmark Glasgow building.

The eyes of the world have been on Britain’s Royal Family this year with weddings and births as the next generation shape a modern day monarchy. Braemar Highland Gathering welcomes Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the family each year making it one of the most popular and internationally reported Highland Games in the world.

Home to Glasgow

Soon I will be leaving my home to honour my Father at a service and say goodbye to the man who left me with the gift of his homeland. A culture thrust upon me but one I proudly celebrate and feel incredibly lucky to have inherited.

Dad will never be forgotten by his family as he is being mourned across three continents and while we grieve we can also look with love and pride on a Glasgow boy who made his unique mark on the world.

Next year Dad will go home to Glasgow to have his ashes spread as he wished and I can’t think of a more perfect place to honour the man who made me, celebrated me and gave me the gift of Scotland.

Share your story with us by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

Gracing our front cover: The drive through Glen Docherty, Wester Ross on the North Coast 500. Photo: Steve Carter.

July 2018 (Vol. 42, Number 01)

The Banner Says…

Celebrating 150 years of Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Last month the city of Glasgow celebrated the 150th birthday of one Scotland’s most influential art figures, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The nation, and city of Glasgow in particular, are now half way through a year of celebrations which honour and highlight the designer, architect and artist who epitomises “Glasgow style”.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh had a lifelong connection with Glasgow and visitors to the city will no doubt be familiar with masterpiece works across the city such as The Glasgow School of Art, The Willow Tea Rooms, Mackintosh House at The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, the villas Windyhill and The Hill House, Scotland Street School and the House for An Art Lover.

Born in Glasgow on 7 June 1868, Charles Rennie Mackintosh went on to be regarded as a leading figure in both the Scottish art world and also in European Art Nouveau. Mackintosh worked exclusively in Glasgow for decades and his genius has meant the city was left with a legacy of incredible work ranging from buildings and furniture to art drawings, glassworks and designs. Today Glasgow is home to the world’s pre-eminent collection of Mackintosh’s work and his cultural legacy is part of the fabric of the city’s identity.

The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Go Glasgow app

For those who are visiting Glasgow this year I encourage you to take in some of the works of Mackintosh whilst there. To honour and celebrate the man and his work, the City of Glasgow has installed an innovative network of Bluetooth beacons at all Mackintosh venues, such as the Scotland Street School Museum, Mackintosh at The Willow and many more.

Walking around the city, each beacon communicates with the Go Glasgow app to reveal the story of each building as you arrive or pass by. The app also provides practical information for each venue, Mackintosh news & events and a map of all the venues.

Mackintosh heritage

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is no doubt a hugely important part of the fabric of Glasgow. His works are celebrated across the world and he has influenced generations of artists and art lovers. ‘The Glasgow Style’ is part of the Mackintosh heritage left to Scotland. In 2018 as the city celebrates the incredible legacy and creative genius of one Glasgow’s greatest cultural icons we hope people can take in some of the 150th anniversary celebrations and connect with one of Glasgow’s most famous sons.

In this issue

Getting out onto the open road for many is the perfect way to see Scotland. A great and diverse number of road drives are now available in Scotland which allow visitors to take in stunning scenery, incredible history and unique places. Pulling over in charming towns or stopping at breathtaking vistas must be a highlight for many visitors and perhaps hitting the road will be on your next Scottish adventure?

Many may not consider Edinburgh to be a coastal city as they take in all that is historic sites across the Old and New Towns. However the city is surrounded by water and the Scottish capital is now looking at celebrating its water heritage. This summer a variety of projects are taking place to connect both locals and visitors to the nearly 30 km of shoreline that is on the doorstep of the city.

The ancient town of Kirkintilloch in Dunbartonshire dates back to Roman times when it was a fort on the Antonine Wall. Today the historic town is considered the ‘Canal Capital of Scotland’ and attracts a good number of water-borne tourists. However not all liquid was welcome as the town was dry for many years. Alcohol was prohibited from sale until 1967 however the town continued to have a rich cultural and industrial history which continues to be celebrated today.

Devastation at the Glasgow School of Art

As we go to press we have been shocked and saddened to learn that Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic A-listed building, the Glasgow School of Art, has suffered a second terrible fire.

The Glasgow School of Art was undergoing restoration work after an earlier fire devastated its library in 2014 and was due to reopen in early 2019. This fire appears to have caused even more devastating damage and as a cruel twist taken place on the 150th year of Mackintosh celebrations.

We have reached out to the School to see how the Scottish Banner and our readers can help and will keep you posted at this incredibly difficult time as the city mourns the destruction of one of its most famous buildings.

Celebrating 42 years

With this issue we also celebrate our 42nd anniversary. What started above a Scottish restaurant in rural Canada, the Scottish Banner has been received by Scots across the world every month since 1976.

We thank our readers and advertisers for their incredible support and for helping us create a special community amongst the Scottish Diaspora.

Have you been influenced by Charles Rennie Mackintosh?  Share your story with us by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

December 2017 (Vol. 41, Number 06)

The Banner Says…

Scotland-Where ancient customs and modern festivities meet

As December approaches we are reminded of one of the most special times of the year when we can all pause and celebrate Christmas and Hogmanay with our loved ones. The month is a busy one with social events for many and catching up with friends, family and ourselves.

I remember as a child the excitement of putting up decorations and seeing presents appear under the tree (especially if they had my name on them!) We had a ritual in our house where we were allowed to open one gift before bed on Christmas Eve. It usually was a prelude of things to come the next day and consisted of lots of wrapping paper ripped apart and across the floor with everyone checking out what the other received.

Banned Christmas

Christmas, however, was not always such a special time in Scotland. The Protestant Reformation banned Christmas in Scotland for 400 years and it was simply just another day for everyday Scots and amazingly Christmas Day didn’t become a public holiday in Scotland until 1958, with Boxing Day not a holiday until 1974.

Perhaps this is why the Scots have always been known for their Hogmanay celebration which have been an important ancient Gaelic winter celebration for centuries and today attracts people from all over the world to the country.

Unique Scottish traditions

Scots not only know how to throw a party (and welcome the world) this month, many will also keep up with some rather unique Scottish traditions that are carried out across the country.
The custom of First-footing describes the arrival of your first guest on New Year’s Day. Tradition dictates a tall, dark male bearing various gifts is said to bring good luck and prosperity to a home; whilst fair-haired males and females are thought to be unlucky.

The Kirkwall Ba’ is a mass-football game played out in the streets of Kirkwall in Orkney every Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The game pits two rival groups (the Uppies and Doonies, the names being derived from Up-the-Gates and Doon-the-Gates), against each other in a battle to secure a goal and win the game. Dating back to the mid-17th century the Kirkwall Ba’ is still today one of the most popular parts of the Orkney holiday calendar.

Maybe not as exciting for some is the tradition of redding where a thorough housecleaning or “redding,” removal of the ashes from the fireplace, and repayment of all debts — all of which must be done before “the bells” at midnight on December 31st. Who doesn’t like to start the year off in a nice clean hoose?

The small town of Burghead in Moray gets a bit greedy over their Hogmanay celebrations with two celebrations to enjoy. The Burning of the Clavie is a fire festival unique to Burghead, which greets in the New Year. The Pagan festival dates back to at least the 1750s and takes place both on December 31st and also again on January 11th. The significance of the 11th January dates back to the 1750’s, when the Julian calendar was reformed in Britain. The new Gregorian calendar was introduced. People rioted, demanding back their 11 days – but not in Burghead. The clavie, which is a half-cask filled with wood shavings and tar, is set alight. Getting of a piece of the clavie is said to bring good luck for the coming year.

In the issue

Scotland’s historic capital is again rolling out the red carpet for kids of all ages this festive season with a huge range of events to cater to all tastes, highlighting with the spectacular fireworks display over Edinburgh Castle. The city will again blend a mix of new and old customs for the tens of thousands of revellers which showcases Scottish hospitality and tradition.

As winter takes hold this month the days become shorter and skies much darker. Scotland is now a top stargazing nation and parts of the country are some of the darkest in Europe. For those who want a real out of this world light show there are few places that can match the celestial displays of bright stars and Northern Lights.
The reconstruction of an Iron Age roundhouse in Dumfries was recently honoured and the ancient settlement of Whithorn is being recreated for future generations to understand Scotland’s Iron Age past. Many crafts people have worked tirelessly to preserve this part of Scotland’s rich heritage.

Scottish folklore is full of interesting tales and this month we look at the story of the last dragon to be killed in Scotland. Many may not be familiar with the Linton worm in the Scottish Borders, however Sir Walter Scott was. Just like the much more famous Loch Ness monster, fact or fiction, the tale is incredible because just what if it was true…

A festive time in a very festive nation

Scotland offers a unique mix of ancient tradition mixed with a modern flair. This month is a festive time in a very festive nation, however wherever you may be spending your Christmas or seeing in 2018 all of us at the Scottish Banner wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season and may 2018 be a year of health and happiness.

Have you got a favourite Christmas or Hogmanay tradition or perhaps been lucky enough to visit Scotland for during the holiday season? Share your story with us by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

How are you celebrating St Andrew’s Day? Share your story with us by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us


Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

Finlay Wilson, the Kited Yogi

November 2017 (Vol. 41, Number 05)

The Banner Says…

St Andrew’s Day- Celebrating a nation

This month many Scots around the world will be coming together to celebrate a Scottish tradition-St Andrew’s Day. The patron saint of Scotland (and several other nations) is celebrated across Scotland and around the world with traditional dances, food, whisky, music and of course kilts, in and around November 30th.

St Andrew has been the patron saint of Scotland for over 1000 years and the celebration of St Andrew’s Day in Scotland is believed to date back to the reign of Malcolm III.

Whilst our Scottish readers may enjoy a public holiday around St Andrew’s Day, with many cultural and historic attractions offering free entry across Scotland. Across the world Scots will pay homage to St Andrew and their love for Scotland at a variety of events and gatherings. The international reach of St Andrew may surprise some with his remains kept in Scotland, Greece, Italy and Poland.

St Andrew is not only the patron saint of Scotland but also Russia, Barbados, Romania, Ukraine, Amalfi in Italy, Esgueira in Portugal, Luqa in Malta, Parañaque in the Philippines and Patras in Greece and each area honours St Andrew in their own unique way. The Caribbean nation of Barbados also has St Andrew as their patron saint and use St Andrew’s Day as their nations Independence Day.

Beyond borders

Beyond borders St Andrew is also the patron saint of singers, spinsters, maidens, old maids, fishmongers and women seeking to become mothers.

From anywhere in the world computer users will also note a bit of Scotland on their search functions as since 2009 Google has incorporated a St Andrew’s Day Google doodle.  The internet giant has in the past presented on November 30th some of Scotland’s most loved landscapes such as the Isle of Skye and Loch Lomond on their general search function area reaching millions of international computer users and highlighting Scotland’s day.

In Scotland St Andrew’s Day marks the beginning of the winter festival season and opens the door for a couple of months of unique Scottish tradition and celebration. With Christmas, Hogmanay and Burns Night all following behind St Andrew’s Day there is lots coming up this winter for visitors. So if you are heading back to Scotland over these next few months rug up and enjoy all the cultural events Scotland has to offer.

In this Issue

This month we speak to Finlay Wilson, the Kited Yogi, who has taken the internet by storm with a series of videos shot amongst the beauty of Scotland, highlighting the ancient practice of yoga, whilst wearing a kilt. This may sound slightly bizarre to some, it has been a hit with tens of millions of people around the world and added yet another reason to visit Scotland. If any readers are now practising yoga in their kilts we would love to hear from you-this just may be the next craze…

This month as we celebrate St Andrew we are also taking readers to the east coast of Scotland to the historic town of St Andrews itself. I remember visiting the town as a teenager and being amazed by the beauty of the place. I don’t golf but it was the charm of its historic streets perched on the North Sea that had an impact on my memory.

Period dramas have never been more popular in television and film and as we go to press cast and crew are currently working in Scotland on a new production called the Outlaw King about King Robert the Bruce for the television streaming service Netflix. The series covers an extraordinary and historic year when Robert the Bruce fights to regain control after being crowned King of Scots, only to be defeated in a surprise attack and made an outlaw by the English King and his occupying forces. This sounds a must see and is expected to be released in 2018, a great opportunity for Scots and the wider community to learn about an incredible period of Scottish history.

Everyone has a phobia and mine would most certainly be rats. The Shiant Isles Recovery Project has worked hard to eradicate rats who have lived on the Shiant Isles in the Outer Hebrides for 150 years in order to save Scotland’s great seabirds and one of the most important bird habitats in the Northern Hemisphere.  It is wonderful to see Scotland working hard to protect its natural heritage and our feathered friends.

This month just goes to show that celebrating your connection to Scotland is as easy as attending an event (see our events page for some great inspiration!), turning on a computer or maybe even practicing yoga… Whatever celebrations you have, we hope you enjoy the month ahead.


How are you celebrating St Andrew’s Day? Share your story with us by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

In Scotland St Andrew’s Day marks the beginning of the winter festival season and opens the door for a couple of months of unique Scottish tradition and celebration.

Please share with us your views by email, post or at www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

Gracing our front cover: Standing proud at the Tattoo. Photo courtesy of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

May 2017 (Vol. 40, Number 11)

The Banner Says…

The Good Old Days?

If you are anything like me, you are fascinated by the “good old days”. That bygone era, when the horse and carriage clip-clopped along cobbled streets. The old lamp lighter doing his rounds each evening, lighting the streets with the pale, yellow of the flickering gas lamps. Inside the houses, wasp waisted women scurried off to the kitchen while their stern faced men drank port in the front room – all part of another world.

Pandora’s Box

My love for that era is so strong, that when an early copy of the Glasgow Herald arrived in the office, everything was dropped while it was read from cover to cover. The date on the yellowed pages was Thursday, July 15th, 1915. The news it carried brought that long-ago summer’s day into the present. I was surprised to notice that, in contrast to today’s papers, the front page was entirely taken up with the classified advertising section, which offered what seemed to be a Pandora’s Box full of bargains.

Take for instance the eight cylinder Cadillac at £495 – complete. Billed as a ‘revelation to the man who has never been satisfied with anything short of excellence‘, it seemed a steal at the price. Also under the heading, “Automobiles for Sale”, was the Seabrook, two seater, 10 horsepower.

The situations vacant offered some interesting positions. One bookkeeping post, for instance stressed that the applicant was not to be under the age of 40 years. That’s a switch! An apprentice fitter was wanted to start immediately, with a salary of 1 penny and three farthings per hour.

Meanwhile a head sales girl at the Co-operative store was earning 25 shillings a week. However, that position required a £10 security deposit.

The First World War

The hard core news was on the inside, and turning here gave us a peek into another world! That of the First World War. There were horrifying stories of war torn Belgium, where thousands were left homeless and starving. It also told of the plight of those in the trenches.

A particularly moving piece by one, Rev. Muir, of Auchterauder in Perthshire, who at that time was acting as Chaplain to the 2nd Royal Scots stationed in Flanders, He, apparently said; “Journeys in the gathering darkness bring home to one as nothing else does, all the strategy and pathos of war. With no light whatever, we stole through sleepy villages, after passing ambulances with their tender burden. One of these carried my thoughts briefly beyond this fighting, for it bore the sweet legend, Maid of Perthshire. We arrived at the village school, which had now been turned into a hospital as the first of the wounded were arriving. As those poor bandaged fellows came into the light, their faces grimy with the smoke of battle, and their khaki clayed with mud from the trenches, many would have liked to take them, one by one, to mother them back to health again. Those in the trenches had rain mud, and shells as their constant companion.”

Glimpse into yesterday

But in other parts of the world, Britain’s fighting men had another kind of hell to contend with. In Gallipoli it was the heat – and the flies. “Those pests’ filled tents and shelter with their idiot buzzing. They would batten onto the unburied dead and pester the living by lighting on their faces and hands. They would wake humans in the morning by crawling all over them. They rise up in the road before them in great clouds.   All the food was black with them, even on the fork which goes into your mouth”. Alongside these reports were numerous columns filled with names and headed, Killed in Action.

Back on the home front, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire had just had a new lifeboat presented to them by one, Mr. T.D. Dyer Edwards. The gift was a thank you for the saving of his daughter Lady Rothers, on the occasion of the Titanic disaster. In Scotland the supplies of meat were small and not nearly keeping up to demand. Top prices for best Scottish and Irish lamb were one shilling a pound while the best quality mutton cost 11 pence.

Reading through the pages, showed me a hard world where victory was everything. Nevertheless, Britain reigned supreme and intended to stay that way at all costs. I am sure there was a lighter side to life in those far off days, but after my glimpse into yesterday, I was glad I was able to come back to today.

And speaking of cars and lifeboats, this month we feature the first ever Scottish car company, on the water we learn about the first commercial boat to operate on Loch Tay since WWII along with how local Scots fishermen are helping clean up the waters and help protect this important industry. In this issue also we chat to Brigadier David Allfrey from The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and as May is Whisky Month in Scotland so we raise a glass to the nation’s “water of life”. Slàinte mhath (good health)!

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

May 2016 (Vol. 39, Number 11)

The Banner Says…

Scotland’s icons

Scotland is known for many iconic things from bagpipes, castles, history, great inventors, music, its people and great scenery to name just a few. Few however will think of Scotland without kilts and tartan. Tartan Day has just been celebrated across North America and plans are under way for celebrations in the Southern Hemisphere on July 1st, the cloth of our nation continues to be popular across the world. Whilst whisky is enjoyed by millions around the world and is another icon of Scotland and her people and this month Whisky Month is being celebrated across Scotland and World Whisky Day is seeing people raise a glass on May 21st.

Tartan-The cloth of a nation

Tartan, what beauty this fabric exudes. Of all national symbols tartan is probably the world’s most widely recognized and acceptable of fabrics. It can be fashioned into clothing, including a wide range of traditional garments both worldwide and at home. Tartan is a very useful Scottish cloth. In Gaelic it is known as “braecan” meaning a particolored or speckled, otherwise coarse fabric or wool, linen or cotton. It is composed of different coloured wools woven into a distinctive patterns known as a ‘sett’. Few Scots, or those of Scottish descent, fail to be stirred by tartan. This cloth is made of varying coloured wools, woven into a distinctive pattern of stripes and checks – also known as a sett. It is a symbol of patriotism which few Scots or those of Scottish descent, fail to be stirred by. Ever since the 1500’s, and to this day, British royalty still like to be seen wearing tartan on appropriate occasions. Very soon the Braemar Gathering, taking place each September, and which the Royal Family like to attend, usually wearing the Balmoral tartan at the event. This tartan was designed around 1848 by Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort. Another tartan, the Royal Stewart, is said to be exclusive to the British sovereign, although eight other Scottish families are entitled to wear other variations of it.

Historical factors

The present popularity tartan enjoys, is due to a number of historical factors. One of these is when Bonnie Prince Charlie made his aborted bid for the British throne in 1745. This is also when a legendary figure was born. He caught the attention of Brits worldwide, he helped Scots became ‘fashionable’ – even romantic! Soon a tailor from Edinburgh, decided to advertise “Tartans in the newest patterns”. This enterprise swelled the ranks of tartans setts from fifty-five in 1831, to more than a thousand today. Queen Victoria fell in love with both the country of Scotland and the tartan itself, when she visited there in 1855. Shortly after that Prince Albert’s Balmoral Castle was resplendent with tartan carpets, sofas, and chairs. It was during that time, tartan became the fabric of choice for many crinolines. Today tartan is an accepted form of dress, not only in Scotland, but in other parts of the world also. Men don the kilt and women wear tartan sashes, secured by brooches over their shoulder. The most popular tartan has been for many years, and still is the Black Watch. Strictly speaking, tartan of any kind can only be worn by those who claim the historical right or ‘belong’ to a particular Scottish clan. Yet tartan is a proud and sturdy link between Sots. There’s a colour a sett, and a tale, behind each and every one. Few countries can carry signs of their birthright on their clothing, and yet Scots can. Many family names are connected to their own tartan. Its part of being Scottish and part of showing pride in their heritage. Watch this space for some exciting news from us here at the Scottish Banner regarding tartan in an upcoming issue.

Water of life

Another Scottish icon we cannot forget is whisky, also known as the water of life (or uisge beatha in Gaelic). May in Scotland is Whisky Month and many people will also be celebrating World Whisky Day on May 21st. In this issue we have literally poured you a “whisky flavoured” edition highlighting the drop that has made Scotland famous. Whisky is big business for Scotland and as the nation spends this month celebrating you can raise your glass to whisky, which is produced and right across Scotland and enjoyed around the world. Whisky is part of Scotland’s business, social and tourism footprint and includes such a special history for Scotland. We hope you enjoy learning more about World Whisky Day, Whisky Month and the great architecture which blends together in celebration of Scotland’s spirit.

Celebrating 40 years

And finally it is hard to believe but we here at the Scottish Banner will soon be celebrating 40 years of monthly publication this July. Since 1976 thousands of ex-pat Scots and those of Scottish descent have been getting the Scottish Banner in order to connect with home and one another. So much has changed in since we began and the Scottish Banner family is certainly wider now than when we began. We would like any readers who have a Scottish Banner story to tell to share with us. Where did you first find the Banner? Has the paper helped you connect with anyone? Have you found a recipe for a favourite family dish in our pages? Have you celebrated your Scottish heritage or attended a Scottish event listed in our pages? We would love to hear from readers on how the Scottish Banner has helped you or been a part of your life. Please share your thoughts with us either via our web site or email or post your nearest office and together let’s celebrate 40 years!

Editorial – The Scottish Banner Says….

March 2016 (Vol. 39, Number 9)March 2016 (Vol. 39, Number 9)

The Banner Says…

Celebrating our Celtic cousins

What an amazing month March is, just as we are getting over St Andrew’s Day in November, then Robert Burns events in January-suddenly here we are in March-with not one but two special days to acknowledge and celebrate!

St David

The first one comes very soon in the month. March 1st to be exact, for it is on this day that St David’s Day is celebrated. Who was St David and what exactly does he stand for? Well might you ask, as while he is the patron Saint of Wales, St David is not quite as well-known as another Saint who becomes very popular on the 17th of this month, St Patrick of Ireland. However, we do have some information on St David, one of these being the fact that he was born in Cardiganshire, and later became renowned as both a teacher and a preacher. He also became known as one who founded monastic settlements and churches in both Wales and Brittany. St David stands on the site of the monastery he founded in the Glyn Rhosyn valley of Pembrokeshire. St David, like many other Saints, also performed miracles. The best known of these seemingly, took place while he was preaching in the middle of a large crowd in a Welsh village. While doing this, a white dove suddenly flew down and settled on his shoulder, a spectacle felt by his followers to be “conceived as a miracle”.

After this St David used a white dove as his emblem. Yet St David lived a simple life, his monastic rule prescribed that monks should pull the plough themselves without draught animals. They should also drink only water and eat only bread with salt and herbs. Further, they should spend their evenings in prayer, while also reading or writing. No personal possessions were allowed. Even to say “my book” was considered an offence. St David also taught his followers to refrain from eating meat or drinking beer. His symbol also is the same as Wales, the leek. Referenced further from Shakespeare’s Henry V, Act V scene, when a Welshman addressed the King as follows: “The Welshmen did good service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps, which we know is an honourable badge of service and we take no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy’s day.” King Henry responded likewise, “I wear it for a memorable honour, for I am Welsh, you know good countrymen”. David lived for over 100 years and died on March 1st, now known as St David’s Day.

St Patrick

If the thought of a blustery, windswept March (for those in the Northern Hemisphere), doesn’t make you think of St Patrick’s Day, then the stores certainly will. From as early as mid-February, shamrocks, greeting cards, and “Erin Go Bragh” buttons will adorn store shelves, reminding us that our Irish celebration is just around the corner. On March 17th green beer will be sold in restaurants, green lines painted in the centre of streets, and Irish tunes played on the radio. It is indeed a great day for the Irish. But to look beyond the frivolity of St. Patrick’s Day, is to open a veritable Pandora’s box on the ancient Celtic culture, for it was during the Celt’s time that this day began. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, was born in Scotland of a British mother and Roman father. Later on he went to Ireland to teach Christianity to the pagan Irish. In doing so, he liked to use the shamrock with its three separate leaves coming from one spine as a symbol of the Holy Trinity.

Patrick died on March 17th, 493, but to this day his name is closely associated with the little green shamrock. When Patrick first arrived in Ireland, the Celts were rather wild people. They roamed throughout Britain and Europe, spreading their customs wherever they went. History has told us that these were a strange people who, on the one hand were savage warriors, but on the other loved to adorn themselves in life, as well as in death, with ornaments. Much of their ancient jewellery has been retrieved from old graves and are now, virtually priceless pieces in museums across Britain and Europe.

Some of their matrimonial laws might be as acceptable in today’s society as they were at the dawn of civilization. For instance, if a woman were richer than the man she married, she automatically ran the household herself. But if the marriage broke up the woman was allowed to take her property and riches with her, without any interference from her spouse. The women were recognized as equal to men, even at war where they could fight alongside them if they so wished, the ancient Queen Boadicea stands testimony to this.

The Celts

In spite of their reputation as barbaric fighters, the Celts were terribly afraid of some of their beliefs. Fairies, witches, warlocks and wizards were enough to strike fear into the most savage of Celtic hearts. Thus the night of Hallowe’en was by far the most sinister night of the Celtic year. For it was widely believed that this was the night the sun descended into darkness, fairy hills opened up and dead spirits roamed the earth casting evil where they may. It was indeed, a night to stay home. And yet not all of their beliefs were fearful, for it was the Celts who gave us the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. It is also due to the Celts that we have the festival ‘Midsummers Eve’, which is still celebrated in many parts of Britain today. The Celts themselves have long ago gone from this world. But they have left us much to remember them by. These include their ancient monuments Stonehenge being the most famous of all. It was during these days of the Celts, in another Ireland, that the first meaning and name of St Patrick’s Day arose.

Clydebank Blitz

Crossing over the years, as is so easy to do in print, we are reminded of yet another special happening in the past, the 75th anniversary of which takes place this month. I mention this as whilst it is by no means as holy as the forerunner of this article, it is however still something which today many people may still remember. The situation of which I speak is the Clydebank Blitz. Although it was a long time ago, I still believe there are those who can recall that terrible time in ours and Scotland’s life time. We revisit that terrible time in Scotland’s history in this edition and honour those impacted by those terrible events of March 1941.While I am certain those days were terrifying to millions of people, perhaps we should remind ourselves of the horror of war and pray together that we never experience that kind of horror again.

May we all enjoy another March with its two special days and thank you St Patrick and St David, two names from the past who we continue to honour today.

Are you celebrating St David’s Day or St Patrick’s Day? How do you think they compare with Scotland’s St Andrews Day? Tell us about your link to these great Celtic celebrations.