Monday, December 30, 2013

Lang may yer lum reek...

Christmas is over and the big celebration of Hogmanay is upon us.  Hopefully you all enjoyed the Christmas holiday.  We had a wonderful visit to our son Steve and his family in Lakenheath, England.  He is stationed at the Lakenheath Air Base.  We received permission to travel down on Monday and we came home on Saturday.  Now for the festivities of Hogmanay.
Christmas in Edinburgh is very festive...there are a number of wee shops set up along Princes Street (the main street in town).  Rides are set up and an ice rink is built near the main park.
This is the rink which is surrounded with wee shops selling food and other gift items. 
This is looking back toward the ice rink and one of the main rides near the park.

 Boxing Day is celebrated in Scotland.  It has traditionally been the day following Christmas Day.  The servants or poorly paid help who were required to work on Christmas Day would be given the day after Christmas off to visit their families.  The employers would present them with a Christmas box…hence -  Boxing Day.    

There are many other descriptions of how Boxing Day began.  During the age of exploration when great sailing ships were setting off to discover new land, a Christmas box – or small container – was placed on each ship while it was still in port.  It was put there by the priest and crewmen who wanted to ensure a safe return would drop money into the box.  It was sealed for the entire voyage.  If the ship came safely home, the box was handed over to the priest in exchange for the saying of a Mass of thanks for the successful voyage.  The Priest would keep the box sealed until Christmas when he would open it and share the contents of the box with the poor the day after Christmas.

The “alms box” was placed in every Church on Christmas Day, into which worshipers would place a gift for the poor and needy of the parish.  These boxes were always opened the day after Christmas and the contents shared with the poor…hence, Boxing Day.

We were at the bus stop and I took this picture looking back over the city.  (taken at 3:50 p.m.) The Edinburgh Castle is in the far back left side and the rides and shops are on the right.  The center of the picture is the glass roof of Waverly Train Station - the main train station in town.  The buildings in the center distance are the Scottish Art museums.

Now, you are probably asking about the title of this post...
"Lang may your lum reek" is a Scottish phrase and it is a salutation wishing long life and prosperity.  Literally, it means "Long may your chimney smoke" and many add "...with other folk's coal".

The "other folk's coal" is a reference to a Scottish New Year's Eve tradition as part of Hogmanay in which visitors bring a piece of coal to a house when they visit on New Year's Day.  This is to bring good luck and prosperity during the coming year.  This is especially important for "first footin'".  The tradition is that the first visitor of the new year should be tall, dark, and handsome and bring a gift...or at least a piece of coal.  This will bring prosperity for the new year.


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