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#NationalStoryTellingWeek – Day Two – The Fairy Boy of Leith

#NationalStoryTellingWeek – Day Two – The Fairy Boy of Leith

NATIONAL STORY TELLING WEEK – DAY TWO – THE FAIRY BOY OF LEITH


The tale of young, magic drummer


The Fairy Boy of Leith is a story that brought attention to both Leith and Calton Hill. It is about a Fairy who played the drums with the elves (There seems to have been a lot of elves in Scotland.) The Story was told by George Burton.

THE STORY


“About fifteen years since, having business that detained me for some time at Leith, which is near Edinburgh, in the kingdom of Scotland, I often met some of my acquaintance at a certain house there, where we used to drink a glass of wine for our refection; the woman which kept the house was of honest reputation among the neighbours, which made me give the more attention to what she told me one day about a fairy boy (as they called him), who lived about that town. She had given me so strange an account of him that I desired her I might see him the first opportunity, which she promised; and not long after, passing that way, she told me there was the fairy boy but a little before I came by; and, casting her eye into the street, said, Look you, sir, yonder he is at play with those other boys; and, designing him to me, I went, and, by smooth words, and a piece of money, got him to come into the house with me; where, in the presence of divers people, I demanded of him several astrological questions, which he answered with great subtlety; and, through all his discourse, carried it with a cunning much above his years, which seemed not to exceed ten or eleven.
“He seemed to make a motion like drumming upon the table with his fingers, upon which I asked him whether he could beat a drum? To which he replied, Yes, sir, as well as any man in Scotland; for every Thursday night I beat all points to a sort of people that used to meet under yonder hill (pointing to the great hill between Edenborough and Leith.) How, boy? quoth I, what company have you there? There are, sir, said he, a great company both of men and women, and they are entertained with many sorts of musick, besides my drum; they have, besides, plenty of variety of meats and wine, and many times we are carried into France or Holland in a night, and return again, and whilst we are there we enjoy all the pleasures the country doth afford. I demanded of him how they got under that hill? To which he replied that there was a great pair of gates that opened to them, though they were invisible to others; and that within there were brave large rooms, as well accommodated as most in Scotland. I then asked him how I should know what he said to be true? Upon which he told me he would read my fortune, saying I should have two wives, and that he saw the forms of them sitting on my shoulders; that both would be very handsome women. As he was thus speaking, a woman of the neighbourhood, coming into the room, demanded of him what her fortune should be? He told her that she had two bastards before she was married, which put her in such a rage that she desired not to hear the rest. “The woman of the house told me that all the people in Scotland could not keep him from the rendezvous on Thursday night; upon which, by promising him some more money, I got a promise of him to meet me at the same place, in the afternoon, the Thursday following, and so dismist him at that time. The boy came again, at the place and time appointed, and I had prevailed with some friends to continue with me, if possible, to prevent his moving that night. He was placed between us, and answered many questions, until, about eleven of the clock, he was got away unperceived by the company; but I, suddenly missing him, hasted to the door, and took hold of him, and so returned him into the same room; we all watched him, and, of a sudden, he was again got out of doors; I followed him close, and he made a noise in the street as if he had been set upon; but from that time I could never see him.” – George Burton.

For quite a few years after the story started circulating, people walked around Calton Hill and they swear they heard the sound of a small drum being hit beneath their feet.
#NationalStorytellingWeek – Day One – Thomas The Rhymer

#NationalStorytellingWeek – Day One – Thomas The Rhymer

Thomas The Rhymer

NATIONAL STORYTELLING WEEK – DAY ONE – THOMAS THE RHYMER


13th Century Scottish Laird, prophet, and rhymer.


Thomas of Erceldoune (also known as Thomas The Rhymer or True Thomas) was a Scottish laird and a prophet from Earlston.  Nobody knows where or how Thomas got his ‘powers’. However, in literature he is the protagonist in the tale about Thomas the Rhymer. It was written that he had been carried off by the “Queen of Elfland” and returned with the gift of prophecy, as well as the inability to tell a lie.


HIS PROPHECIES

Clan Haig | Bermey Side House
Bermeyside House where the Haig Clan resides.

True Thomas made many prophecies. One even inspired an American Gothic author to write a short story named ‘The Masque of the Red Death,’ maybe you’ve heard of him? Edgar Allan Poe.

One of Thomas The Rhymers popular prophecies was about the well-know ‘Haig’ clan.

“Tide, tide, whate’er betide,
 There’ll aye be Haigs in Bemerside.”

This rhyme prophesized that the ancient family of the ‘Haig’s of Bemerside’ will continue on without end. It was reported that the Haig’s had died out, and Thomas had been wrong. However, the famous and controversial Field Marshall Douglas Haig comes from this family, and was even made Earl in 1919. The Haig family line still continues to this day.

One of his most accurate prophecies came when he uttered the words,

The Burn o’ Breid,
Sall rin fu’ reid.

Which translates to say ‘The river of bread, Shall run full red.’ The river of bread refers to the river in Bannockburn, which was ‘the chief bread’ of Scotland in those days. This river did indeed run red during the ‘Battle of Bannockburn’.

 

Another prophecy that’ll bring joy to all those who love Edinburgh. It is however, only rumoured to come from True Thomas. It was collected from a 72 year old Edinburgh resident. It may come from another very accurate Scottish prophet ‘The Brahan Seer’.

“York was, London is, and Edinbruch ‘ill be,
the biggest and the bonniest o’ a’ the three”

It suggests that one day, the Scottish capital will become the most important city in Britain.


THE STORY

Thomas and Queen of Elfland
Thomas the Rhymer and the Queen of Elfland

The earliest version (below) of the ballad about Thomas The Rhymer may date back as early as the 14th Century.

“True Thomas lay oer grassy bank,
And he beheld a lady gay,
A ladie that was brisk and bold
Come riding oer the fernie brae.

Her skirt was of the grass-green silk,
Her mantel of the velvet fine,
At ilka tett of her horses mane
Hung fifty silver bells and nine.

True Thomas he took off his hat,
And Bowed him low down till his knee:
‘All hail. Thou mighty Queen of Heaven!
For your peer on earth I did never see.’

‘O no, O no, True Thomas,’ she says,
‘That name does not belong to me;
I am but the queen of fair Elfland,
And I am come here for to visit thee.

‘But ye maun go wi me now, Thomas,
True Thomas ye maun go wi me,
For ye maun serve me seven years,
Thro Weel or wae as may chance to be.’

She turned about her milk white steed,
And took True Thomas up behind,
And eye wheneer her bridle rang,
The steed flew swifter than the wind.

For forty days and forty nights,
He wade through red blude to the knee,
And he saw neither sun nor moon,
But heard the roaring of the sea.

O they rade on, and further on,
Until they came to a garden green:
‘Light down, light down, ye ladie free,
Some of that fruit let me pull to thee.’

‘O no. O no, True Thomas,’ she says
‘That fruit maun be touched by thee,
For a’ the plagues that are in hell
Light on the fruit of this countrie.

‘But I have a loaf here in my lap,
Likewisea bottle of claret wine,
And now ere we go farther on,
Ae’ll rest a while, and ye may dine.’

When he had eaten and drunk his fill,
‘Lay down your head upon my knee,’
The lady sayd, ere we climb yon hill,
And I will show you fairlies three.

‘O see not ye yon narrow road,
So beset wi thorns and briars?
That is the path of rightousness,
Tho after it but few enquiries.

‘Ande see ye not that braid braid road,
That lies across yon lillie leven?
That is the path of wickedness,
Tho some call it the road to heaven.

‘And see ye not that bonnie road,
which winds about the fairnie brae?
That is the road to fair Elfland,
Where you and I this night maun gae.

‘But Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue,
Whatever you may hear or see,
For gin ae word you should chance to speak,
You will neer get back to your ain countrie.’

He has gotton a coat of the even cloth,
And a pair of shoes of velvet green,
And till seven years where passed and gone
True Thomas on earth was never seen.”

Top 5 Hogmanay Traditions

Top 5 Hogmanay Traditions

Hogmanay Traditions

THE HOGMANAY TRADITIONS


New Year may be a celebrated and familiar day around the world. However, the Scots have their own rich and honored tradition with the day. They call it Hogmanay.


The origins of the name Hogmanay remain mysterious. Many believe it derives from the Anglo-Saxon ‘Haleg monath’ meaning ‘Holy Month’. However, a fair few people believe it’s origins to come from the French phrase ‘Homme est né’ which means ‘Man is Born’. Additionally, a considerable amount of people believe it to have sprouted from the Flemish words ‘Hoog min dag’ which translates to ‘Great love day’.

In conclusion, there is no official pin-pointed origin to the word. So, take your pick.

Hogmanay as an event is easier to track the origins of. However, historians still don’t have a set-in-stone parentage of the Scottish celebration. The most widely accepted story is that it developed from the Norse celebration of the winter solstice. Hogmanay is also believed to have incorporated customs of Samhain, the Gaelic celebration. And, Yule, which was an event celebrated by The Vikings which later became the “Daft Days” (in Scotland). For the rest of the world it became The Twelve Days of Christmas.

A long time ago, In Scotland, Christmas was not celebrated. Hogmanay was the festive celebration. It’s not clear why Christmas was not celebrated. Although, it is considered to have been a result of the Protestant Reformation. Christmas was seen as “too Papist” after that. Fun bunch, I know.

 

Anyhow. Here are 5 of the most popular Hogmanay traditions (in no particular order) for you to learn about and maybe, if you like whiskey, even introduce them into your own celebrations (again, that reference will become clear once you read).


Hogmanay Redding The House

Redding the House

Similar to the an annual spring cleaning that some communities have taken has a tradition, or the ritual cleaning of the kitchen for Passover, Scottish families also undertook a tradition of a major cleanup to ready the house for the New Year. They did something else too, while sweeping out the fireplace, getting rid of all the ash that had spattered out of the necessary flames during the harsh cold months of November and December. They read the ashes, hoping it would foretell what was to come in the year ahead. This was a very important practice and there was a skill in reading the ashes, the way some people read tea leaves.


Hogmanay First Footing

First Footing

After the hazy stroke of midnight, neighbors would meet and greet each other, bearing traditional Scottish gifts such as shortbread or black bun (a kind of fruit cake). However, in turn, the visitor is offered a politely small whisky. So, if you had plenty of friends and visited each of their homes to wish them a happy new year. You would likely be offered a great deal of whiskey to which most Scots would say ‘Guy Braw’ which means ‘Very Good’. Additionally, the first person to enter and make the first foot inside the house in the New Year, could bring luck for the New Year. I’m not too sure how much luck a balance-lacking-whiskey-influenced first foot would bring.


Hogmanay Fire Festivals

Bonfires and Fire Festivals

The possibility of a Viking and pagan influence over Hogmanay introduces itself again. This time in Scotland’s fire festivals. The fires usually happen on Hogmanay itself and once again in late January. The use of fire was an attempt to purify and drive away evil spirits. Which we all know, is something Scotland, and Edinburgh in particular is in dire need of. The fire festivals and bonfires have always been at the center of the celebrations in Scottish towns such as Stonehaven, Comrie and Biggar. However, it has only recently become an element in Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebration.


Hogmanay Auld Lang Syne

The Singing of Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne, Robert Burns’ version of a traditional Scottish air. Is sang over the world. How it became the New Year’s song is something that like a lot of Hogmanay, remains somewhat of a mystery. At the famous ‘Edinburgh’s Hogmanay’ celebrations, people come together, they join hands, and they sing. They sing what is reputed to be the biggest Auld Lang Syne in the world. Impressive, right?


Hogmanay Saining The House

The Saining of the House

This is a very old, very rural, and perhaps the strangest of the Hogmanay traditions. It involved blessing the house and livestock with holy water from a local stream. This tradition saw a huge drop and had nearly died out. However, in recent years it has experienced a remarkable and unusual revival. Once the house and livestock have been blessed, The woman of the house would go around each room of the house with a blazing juniper branch. The idea of this, was to fill the house with purifying smoke. Now, with all this smoke flowing through the rooms of the house. The occupants started to cough and choke on the smoke so the windows would be flung open and of course, a few drams of whiskey are passed around. This is Scotland after all.

If you are hoping to celebrate Hogmanay, make sure you stock up on whiskey. Or perhaps you just want a few drams for yourself. In which case, we offer some great whiskey tasting. Happy new year and enjoy trying out some of these strange Hogmanay traditions.


NEEDING A PLACE TO STAY?


Old Waverly Hotel | Cranstons Restaurant
Old Waverley Hotel | Princes Street

Old Waverley Hotel: Due to its perfect location on Edinburgh’s Princes Street. You will have views of the fireworks, light shows and the European Market. This traditional hotel is in walking distance from all the main Edinburgh landmarks and George St. You’ll be in the center of all the great Hogmanay Celebrations.

The Howard | Room
The Howard | Great King Sreet.

The Howard: A luxurious 5-star hotel in Edinburgh’s new town. Just a short walk from Princes Street and all the main Hogmanay attractions. You will be able to enjoy valet parking and a unique butler service. If you are wanting to spend your Edinburgh Hogmanay in luxury then The Howard is the perfect Hotel for you.

Channings | Bathroom
Channings Hotel | South Learmonth Gardens

Channings: Voted Edinburgh’s most romantic hotel. If you are wanting to have a grand and lavish stay in Edinburgh’s new town then Channing’s Hotel is perfect for you.

Holyrood ApartHotel | Apartments
Holyrood ApartHotel | Holyrood

Holyrood ApartHotel: This modern apartment hotel is an easy 1-minute walk from the Royal Mile. It’s also a 4-minute walk from Holyrood Park. These serviced apartment are a perfect home away from home. Perfect for families and business professionals.

Who was St. Andrew? Why does he have a Day?

Who was St. Andrew? Why does he have a Day?

The Edinburgh Collection | St. Andrew

Saint And-who?


St. Andrew. The Story of Scotland’s Patron Saint.


Saint Andrew’s day is celebrated on November 30th it is a day to celebrate Scottish music, food and dance. But who was St. Andrew? Not only is he the patron saint of Scotland. He is also the patron saint of spinsters, sore throats, singers, maidens, fishmongers, women wanting to be mothers, and finally, gout. But how does a man who never set foot in Scotland, become so special and treasured by the Scots so much that he gets his own day?


Who was St. Andrew?

Saint Andrew was a simple fisherman but also Jesus’ first disciple (Scotland is actually one of the few countries to have one of Jesus’ disciples at their patron saint.) He and his brother (Saint) Peter were born in a small Galilean fishing village which is where they met Jesus. However, Andrew didn’t become acquainted with Jesus until he started to follow him home and when Jesus asked “Why are you following me?” Andrew replied by telling Jesus he wished to know where it was that he lived, to which Jesus replied “Come and see”. How times have changed.

Andrew was never overly close to Jesus, which may or may not be to do with the incident regarding his house. While he was always considered one of the main disciples and was in the ‘top four’, John and Mark and his brother Peter were said to have been giving special access to Jesus on some occasions.

What did he do that made him so special?

Once Jesus had died, Andrew carried on preaching the religion of Christianity across European countries such as Poland, Russia and Greece. It was in Greece where his was crucified on an x-shaped cross. He refused to be crucified on a vertical cross as he felt unworthy to die in the same way as Jesus. The ‘X’ is also known as a Saltire which is now the symbol used by Scotland on their flag.

Some time passed.

A monk named Regulus (or Rule) was watching over the bones of Saint Andrew when an angel appeared to him and instructed him to take the remains far west. The journey proved arduous and Regulus was shipwrecked on the east coast of Scotland (where is now the town of St. Andrews).

Andrew was only recognised as the official patron saint of Scotland in the year 1320 at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath, a declaration of Scottish independence from England in the form of a letter to Pope John XXII. Scotland have always had some leverage with the church as Andrews’s brother Peter founded it.

St Andrews burgh became a popular pilgrimage site in medieval times due to the presence of Andrew’s relics in Scotland. These included a kneecap, arm bones, and a tooth. However, they were all destroyed during the Scottish Reformation in the 16th century. Consequently, the Archbishop of Amalfi gave Andrew’s shoulder blade to St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh In 1879 and further relics were donated by Pope Paul VI in 1969.

Where did he do it?

While it is not certain where Andrew actually preached. A few places have been mentioned with some sort of confidence, those being Scythia, Thrace and Asia Minor. Andrew appears to have travelled great distances in order to spread the word of Jesus and his faith of Christianity. He may have actually travelled to Scotland on these journeys of preachment. However, the tale of Regulus is more widely believed to be the true reason of Saint Andrew’s presence in Scotland.

Why did he do it?

Like all of Jesus’ disciples, he believed in the teachings and practiced the faith. However, why he travelled far and wide spreading the word is unknown. Perhaps he felt some responsibility being the first disciple. Perhaps he felt guilty for following him home. But what is known, is that St. Andrew was dedicated and felt some bond between himself and Jesus and it is believed that Jesus granted his ability to perform miracles unto Andrew so he could carry on transforming the lives of those he met.


Now you know all about St. Andrew and why he is the patron saint of Scotland. So go out, drink whiskey, go dancing. However, don’t follow someone home in the hopes it’ll lead to you becoming a saint. Or getting a day dedicated to your honor. It doesn’t work like that anymore. Latha Naomh Anndra math dhuibh (Happy St. Andrews day).

To Do: How to have the perfect Edinburgh Christmas.

To Do: How to have the perfect Edinburgh Christmas.

Edinburgh Christmas

HAVE THE PERFECT EDINBURGH CHRISTMAS


Our guide of things to do in Elfinburgh Edinburgh this festive season.


Wondering how to have the perfect Edinburgh Christmas? We’ll help you out with our guide of the best things to do in Scotland’s capital this festive season. Edinburgh has plenty of presents under the tree. Whether you’re a culture creature, party person, merry man, festive female or jolly juvenile – there is something for everyone.


OUT AND ABOUT


Edinburgh Collection | Edinburgh Collection
Street of Lights (image source: edinburghchristmas.com)

European Christmas Market (19th November – 7th January) – FREE

  • The well-loved European Christmas Market is located in East Princes St Gardens. There are many quaint huts where international sellers offer traditional Christmas items, food and drink. You’ll be sure to check off some items on your gift list.

Street of Light (21st November – 24th December) – FREE

  • Virgin Money’s popular light show is back this year with more stunning displays synchronized to the music of local choirs and bands. It is located on George Street. Hurry, it’s selling out quick!

The Scottish Market – (26th November – 24th December) – FREE

  • Edinburgh Christmas’ Scottish Market is located on George Street. It is a tasty showcase of lovingly handmade food, drink and crafted goods that Scotland’s best Artisans have to offer.

THEATRE


Perfect Edinburgh Christmas
Five Guys Named Moe (image source: edinburghschristmas.com)

Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland at Lyceum Theatre – (2nd December – 31st December) – From £18.00

  • You know the story. Based on Lewis Carroll’s best-selling, universally-loved children’s novel ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. The story has been adapted multiple times on screen and stage due to its popularity. However, every interpretation is different. This is especially true in this new version created and directed by Anthony Neilson.

Five Guys Named Moe at Edinburgh West End – (18th Nov – 7th Jan) –  From £15.50

  • The major West End and Broadway musical comes to Edinburgh this Christmas. Featuring the toe-tapping and merry-music of Jazz legend Louis Jordan performed live on stage by an eclectic band.

Mamma Mia at Edinburgh Playhouse – (29th November – 7th January) – From £15.00

  • The well-known smash-hit musical is coming to Edinburgh. Set on a paradisaical Greek island, a story of love, friendship and identity is intelligently told through the feel-good songs of the well-acclaimed band ABBA.

FAMILY


Icy Edinburgh Christmas
Ice Skating (image source: edinburghschristmas.com)

Christmas Tree Maze – (19th November – 7th January) – From £3.50

  • A fun, festive, family-friendly experience. Can you navigate your way all the way to the centre and back again? Inside you’ll also discover the Elves’ workshop, where Santa’s jolly little helpers will be waiting for you with a little treat.

Santa’s Grotto – (19th November – 24th December) – From £8.00

  • Santa’s Grotto is a must at Christmas time. This is the perfect chance for well-behaved children to get a one-on-one with Santa before Christmas to get in their final wishes before the big day. You will also be able to meet his most dedicated helpers. Furthermore, if you are on the nice list you’ll receive a little gift.

Ice Skating at St Andrew Square – (18th November – 7th January) – From £5.00

  • It is time to ‘Get one’s skates on’ (literally). At the St. Andrew Square you and your family can skate around the grand Melville Monument. Remember to be safe. Children under 11 must be accompanied by an adult.

NEEDING A PLACE TO STAY?


We can help you have an even more perfect Edinburgh Christmas.

Old Waverly Hotel | Cranstons Restaurant
Old Waverley Hotel | Princes Street

Old Waverley Hotel: Due to its perfect location on Edinburgh’s Princes Street. You will have views of the fireworks, light shows and the European Market. This traditional hotel is in walking distance from all the main Edinburgh landmarks and George St (location of Scottish Market and Street of Lights).

The Howard | Room
The Howard | Great King Sreet.

The Howard: A luxurious 5-star hotel in Edinburgh’s new town. Just a short walk from Princes Street and all the main Christmas attractions. You will be able to enjoy valet parking and a unique butler service. If you are wanting to spend your Edinburgh Christmas in luxury then The Howard is the perfect Hotel for you.

Channings | Bathroom
Channings Hotel | South Learmonth Gardens

Channings: Voted Edinburgh’s most romantic hotel. If you are wanting to have a grand and lavish stay in Edinburgh’s new town then Channing’s Hotel is perfect for you.

Holyrood ApartHotel | Apartments
Holyrood ApartHotel | Holyrood

Holyrood ApartHotel: This modern apartment hotel is an easy 1-minute walk from the Royal Mile. It’s also a 4-minute walk from Holyrood Park. These serviced apartment are a perfect home away from home. Perfect for families and business professionals.