Archive for November 3rd, 2008

A bit of Haggis; A lot of Sunshine

Posted on November 3, 2008. Filed under: Culture, Games, Health, HowTo, Musings |

My previous post contained good wishes for any of various holidays you may have been celebrating over the weekend. Part of my celebration included attending my local Celtic Festival and Highland Games. Among other things, I’m part Scottish, and played in a bagpipe band for some years, so this was familiar territory for me.

It happened that the festival was held on the very weekend of the Celtic New Year, a three-day celebration in some circles. There were two fire celebrations; one on opening night, which was “The Scottish Clan Torchlight Ceremony of Honor” at which the Clan names are read. The next night had “Celtic Fire” including fire dancers, music, and general mayhem. I learned something I hadn’t known in all these years of being part Scottish:

The word ‘bonfire‘, or ‘bonefire’ is a direct translation of the Gaelic tine cnámh. With the bonfire ablaze, the villagers extinguished all other fires. Each family then solemnly lit its hearth from the common flame, thus bonding the families of the village together.

Did you know the term “bonfire” is a shortened form of “bone fire”? Apparently my ancestors tossed the bones of the cattle they’d slaughtered and preserved for the winter onto the fire! The ceremony was for the entire harvest, and to ask for divine assistance for the supplies to last through the long upcoming winter.

Here in the desert, we don’t have a “real” winter, with snow, and all (although it can get c o l d ), and we can get food all year long (would that this will continue!) so the ceremony doesn’t have the emotional urgency it would have in other times and places, but it’s quite a spectacle nevertheless, and made me feel a connection with the more “earthy” aspects of our existence.

The games themselves were fun, although it was unseasonably warm for November. It must have felt very hot to be in traditional dress—all those woolens! I had the opportunity to hear several really good pipe bands, saw some highland and Scottish Country dancing, browsed some shoppes, and heard some wonderful Celtic music (particularly a “jam” session which included harps, whistles, guitars and fiddles—just great!)

The other thing I did, finally, years after I actually visited Scotland and couldn’t bring myself to do it there, was…I ate some Haggis! It was sold in a small bowl with some crackers. The idea of it had never appealed to me, and much to the disdain of the Bed-and-Breakfast owner in Glasgow, I chickened out there (literally; I ordered chicken stew instead) when encouraged to eat this dish.

I needed to record this momentous event here, on this very blog, because a question on this meme asked me to name a food I hadn’t tried yet, but would, now I’d been asked. I named “Haggis” and then regretted it after pushing the “publish” button. 😮 I had visions of having to report back here when I was 96 and finally got up the nerve to partake of this dish, but, fortunately (?!?) I had the opportunity presented to me on Saturday, and I lived to tell the tale.

It looked and tasted like a kind of ground-up stew; tasty, really. The only problem with it is the way it’s prepared, and I didn’t have to watch that, or think about it too much. (If you’d like to know what I ate, and how it’s made, check out this recipe from the BBC! — you’ll need a strong stomach before you read this, though. Haha. A pun. You’ll see why if you look at the recipe) 😎

So, as you are my witness, I did do this thing I said I would do!!!

A h-uile là sona dhuibh ‘s gun là idir dona dhuib. (May all your days be happy ones.)

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