Dec 29, 2006

Happy Hogmanay

Ring in the new year the Scot's way.
Calluinn: “The Night of Blows or Pelting.” The superstitious tradition was meant to ward off evil in the new year—and what better way to chase off evil than with a violent ritual involving men dressed as cows and lots of whiskey? Scottish FAQ has an excerpt from The Folklore of the Scottish Highlands (1976) by Ann Ross that sums it up well:

The boys who took part in these rites were known as gillean Callaig, 'Hogmanay Lads,' and the ceremony was performed at night. One of the boys was covered with the hide of a bull to which the horns and hooves were still attached. When they came to a house in some areas they climbed to the flat edge of the thatched roof and ran round it in a sunwise direction, the boy, or man, wearing the hide would shake the horns and hooves, and the others would strike at he bull-man with sticks. He was meant to be a frightening figure, and apparently the noise of the ritual beating and shaking of the hide was terrific. After this part of the ceremony was performed, the boys came down from the roof and recited their blatantly pagan chants; afterwards they were given hospitality of the house.

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