Archive for the ‘Culture in Scotland’ Category
Sunday, October 3rd, 2010
While blockbusters such as “Braveheart” may provide an introduction to the cinematic culture of Scotland, contemporary Scottish filmmakers are more likely to question the value of survival, and to use humor to examine the nature of being human.
“Being Human” is, in fact, the title of one of famed Scottish director Bill Forsyth’s films. Robin Williams plays the central character in five narrative stories spanning the history of humankind. The theme of perseverance against all odds, along with Forsyth’s vivid, unpredictable imagination make this film memorable.
Forsyth’s first international hit, “Gregory’s Girl” features a socially-challenged teen infatuated with the new girl in school, despite the fact that her soccer skills far outshine his own. Film critic Roger Ebert raved about “Gregory’s Girl,” declaring that “the movie contains so much wisdom about being teenage and vulnerable” that perhaps “only grown-ups should see this movie.”
So significant have been Forsyth’s contributions to Scottish Cinema, that in “Trainspotting” a character parodies a line from “Gregory’s Girl.” However, this cult classic has none of Forsyth’s gentle insight. Based on the Irvine Welsh novel, the film follows heroin addicts along self-destructive rambles through Edinburgh. (more…)
Saturday, August 21st, 2010
Up the river Perth there is an old abbey, surrounded by trees and partially overtaken by wild nature – it is the Scone Abbey, a historical place where Scottish kings were crowned with the help of the Stone of Scone. Now long gone from it’s original place of power, the Stone still holds a great meaning, even after 700 years.
A 14th century English cleric and historian Walter Hemingford writes:
“In the monastery of Scone, in the church of God, near to the high altar, is kept a large stone, hollowed out as a round chair, on which their kings were placed for their ordination, according to custom.”
The stone has many names. Coronation Stone, Stone of Destiny, as it is said that it was deciding if a person was worth to become a king of the Scots. Jacob’s Pillow Stone, for as the legend says, it had been used by Jacob as a pillow in Haran before it was transported to Syria and later to Spain. In Scottish Gaelic – Lia Fáil. Whatever name it was, the truth is that ever since Kenneth I every monarch of Scotland, England and later Great Britain had to sit on the stone during the coronation. (more…)
Sunday, August 1st, 2010
Whether you are planning an adventure to travel to Scotland or you are interested in studying the history of the country, you will be fascinated by the legends and lore of Scotland. When researching Scottish legends, the first thing that most people think of is the Loch Ness Monster or William Wallace but the history of Scotland has produced some of the more interesting legends that people are not aware of.
The history of Halloween can be traced back to Scotland where it began as a religious celebration of the end of summer, called Samhain. Samhain is a Druid festival that marked the time of the year when the days grew shorter and darkness started earlier.
The Shellycoat is condidered the Scottish boogeyman, Boobrie is a legendary water bird that haunts Scottish lakes, Fachan is a creature who dwells in the western highlands of Scotland, Red Cap is an evil creature who lives in a castle on Scotland’s border. (more…)
Monday, July 19th, 2010
Summer is in full bloom, most of us think of spending their vacation somewhere, where they could see beautiful places, engage in relaxing activities or just sit back and enjoy the moment. If you decided that this year you would like to spend your free time in Scotland, here are some ideas for what is there to do in the beautiful country:
Scotland is well known for it’s golfing background. If you are an enthusiast of the game, you might fancy spending you time visiting some of over four hundred golf courses – one of the oldest in the world, called links. Usually it is best to make a reservation but there is no problem with arriving unannounced. Scottish golf courses, even though some of them have their own membership policies, make a lot of exceptions for foreign tourists with only requirement being the payment between 5 and 20 GBP, depending on the field size.
[photo by: Easywebsites.ky] (more…)
Sunday, July 11th, 2010
Scottish words have seeped into our language and added all the color and texture of a tartan plaid. In fact, tartan, which is cloth woven in colored checks and intersecting lines, is one of the many words of Scottish origin that is now recognized world wide.
Lassie, meaning a young unmarried woman, and its companion, laddie, a young man, have been popularized through television and song. Most people in Western cultures have heard the Scottish folk song, “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”. bonnie means pleasing to the eye.
Quite a few landforms owe their names to Scottish origins. Loch, the word for lake, has gained recognition through widely reported sightings of the legendary monster, Nessie. But words like glen, a secluded valley, and firth, an estuary, are also well recognized. (more…)
Friday, June 4th, 2010
Sports in the modern age come and go; the Highland Games in Scotland predate written history. They originate from the earliest Clan gatherings, not only for localities to show off their strongest and most athletic young men, but for Clan leaders to get a good look at the talent available for battle. Regarding the first and best of sport in Scotland:
1. The “Haggis Toss” is not a traditional Highland game. Indeed, tossing a haggis about is a criminal waste of food, so flying haggis at true Highland Games is right out.
2. The weight and dimensions of objects used at each Highland Games vary; today, as in the past, real stones and logs are used.
3. The pine logs used in caber tosses from year to year tend to dry out. Many cabers, then, are soaked for a time in water before the games, to attempt to add the lost weight.
4. Highland Dancing is a competition that demands strength, grace, and stamina. Originally, only men danced at the games, but in the late 19th century, Jenny Douglas entered the competition. Today, 95% of all Highland Games dancers are women. (more…)
Saturday, May 22nd, 2010
Scottish literature dates back to well before the medieval ages, and there have been plenty of prolific writers throughout the centuries.
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Many Scottish writers produced works in English in addition to the native languages such as Scottish Gaelic and Scots.
Each era was defined by different writing styles that were influenced by a few talented authors. Overall, Scotland’s most famous writers are from the 18th and 19th century periods. Robert Burns and Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson are some of the most recognizable names in Scottish literature.
Born in the small village of Alloway, Robert Burns has risen to iconic status in Scotland and beyond. You may
be surprised to learn that one of Scotland’s most famous writers actually wrote poems rather than novels. Burns also had musical creativity, and he integrated traditional folk songs into his poems. For example, his poem “Auld Lang Syne” has been carefully written to match the musical notes of an old folk song. Written in 1788 in the Scots language, this melodic poem has become part of a New Year’s tradition in Scotland, the United Kingdom, and other countries where English is spoken. (more…)
Saturday, May 8th, 2010
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Although Scotland lays claim to numerous scientists and inventors, perhaps the most memorable is (1) Alexander Graham Bell (1847 – 1922). In addition to receiving the first US patent for the telephone, he is also credited with more than 30 inventions and discoveries across a wide variety of fields. Additionally, he was one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society.
Everyone who studies chemistry will be familiar with the contributions of (2) Joseph Black (1728 – 1799). This Scottish physicist developed the analytical balance and discovered latent heat, specific heat, and carbon dioxide. His work with latent heat and specific heat paved the way for the invention of the steam engine. (more…)
Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
This April New York City hosted the 8th Annual Dressed to Kilt Charity Fashion Show, an event organized to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Erskine Hospital in Scotland as a part of the Tartan Week.
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The fashion show has been hosted by Sir Sean Connery (accompanied by his wife Micheline) in effort to help Friends of Scotland charity organization founded by Connery in its mission. Friends of Scotland organize a benefit every year and the theme of this year’s fashion show was “Mad for Scotland”.
Various styles were presented during the runway performance, from the most conservative, worn by Matthew Modine, Alan Cumming or Kyle MacLachlan, to absolutely crazy and abstract pieces like the ones presented by Joan Jett or Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan.
There was a lot of tartan, accompanied by wonderful performance and great humour on both guests and models’ sides. Wonderful clothes created by both young, creative Scottish designers and world’s top designers were displayed in the most entertaining manner by people known and unknown. Celebrities were walking along veterans and even children, all dressed in variations about the Scottish kilt. (more…)