Scotland is known for its beauty and green surroundings, nature walks and friendly people. As a country full of history, we follow our own set of rules that are unique to Scottish residents alone. Things such as ceilidhs and Irn Bru are an everyday occurrence on our side of the fence, yet the said traditions can seem strange to outsiders. So, let’s have a look at some of the brilliant but weird traditions in Scotland.
1. People are obsessed with Irn Bru
When we say Scotland had a national day of mourning when Barr changed their recipe putting less sugar in the fizzy juice, it’s not a joke. People are still upset about the lack of sugar in the orange drink, and people are definitely not over it. What is more, Irn Bru is used as a common mixer in alcoholic drinks and often the only thing present in the vending machines apart from bottles of water.
Ceilidhs are just as common as going out dancing to clubs, and plenty of people of all ages participate in them. Frankly, the organised night of dancing can get very intense very soon, leaving you breathless, sweaty and even having to sit out a couple of songs. If you’ve never been to ceilidh before and you’re in Scotland, you must go: a lot of the time the host will explain the different dances before each song, and it’s a lot of fun. Plus, children at schools here are also taught the art of traditional dancing during PE class, so most people here are prepared for a good time.
3. Hogmanay is more important than Christmas
That’s right, Christmas was actually forbidden in Scotland for about 400 years, so we celebrate Hogmanay (New Year) for several days. There is even an extra bank holiday in Scotland just to recover from Hogmanay, and the age-old tradition of First Footin is still very much alive. First Footin is when the man of the household has to carry a piece of coal through the door just as New Year hits, or else it’s bad luck for everyone involved.
4. Singing ‘Loch Lomond’ at the end of every wedding
If you don’t sing Loch Lomond at a wedding, you basically just need to throw another wedding. The origins of this particular tradition are unknown, but once we hear the song starting, everyone knows it’s the end of the night while hitting the dancefloor to sing the whole thing.
Okay, so this one is truly one of the weird traditions in Scotland that could be a wee bit questionable. Blackening is a Scottish wedding custom that usually takes place the night before someone’s wedding, but can be done weeks prior as well. It involves capturing the bride and/or groom by their families and friends: basically, the rules are not exactly clear, but the main idea is that the bride and groom gets covered in alcohol, food, feathers and other substances while being paraded around their local town at the back of a pick up truck. The captors also make as much noise as possible to attract the attention of everyone that can witness the blackening. No one really knows where the tradition comes from, and it’s usually performed in rural areas.
6. Haggis Hurling
It is no secret that haggis is one of the most noteworthy dishes of the Scottish cuisine. Well, we don’t just eat haggis, we also throw haggis in a special sport called Haggis Hurling. There is even a World Haggis Hurling Championship: the contestants have to climb on top of a platform and have to throw the haggis as far as possible. Apparently, it’s all about the technique, and not the force in which the food is thrown. The are rules and regulations, too – each ball of haggis is inspected for any additives or firming agents to ensure no cheating.
7. Burns Night
While many other countries around the world celebrate their literary heroes, Scotland has a day dedicated to the famous poet, Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns. During Burns Night on January 25, people gather together for a wee dram of whiskey, eat haggis, neeps and tatties while some will also enjoy some poems.
8. Bagging munros
A lot of Scottish people must climb every munro in Scotland in their lifetime. No matter the weather, the state of a hangover or pulling a muscle, nothing will stop the determination for hiking in this country. To be precise, there are 282 munros in Scotland, so you are unlikely to run out of options to check a brand new munro off your list.
9. Deep fried Mars bars
Give a Scot pretty much anything and we’ll batter it: this is certainly one of the weird traditions in Scotland that appear strange to others. Battered Mars bars are very much a thing at local take away shops here. In fact, the concept is so unusal to foreign people, that a survey found 40% of Americans thought deep fried Mars bars were not real. Plus, a local chippy even deep fried Cadbury’s Creme Eggs last Easter.