What is the Scottish Ceilidh and Ceilidh Dancing?

What is the Scottish Ceilidh and Ceilidh Dancing?

Originally the word Ceilidh (kay-lee) descended from the Gaelic word for ‘gathering’ or ‘party’… However, these days when people think of a Ceilidh, they think of a fun-filled night of wild dancing, good music and great company!

A ceilidh is a Scottish social event which involves traditional folk music and dancing. You will normally come across ceilidhs on special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. However, there are several venues across Edinburgh and Scotland which regularly host ceilidhs all year round such as Summerhall and the Ghillie Dhu.

To start this article we’d like to have you in the mood. Here is a super nice video that you can play in the background while reading to feel the Sottish spirit.

How does this Ceilidh thing work?

So one of the band members walks us through each dance. He explains each part of it until it seems like we understand. We try it once without music before doing it “full out”. Then, the music starts, he gives us the cue so we all start at the same time and you just hope you remember the moves! Each dance lasts between 5 and 10 minutes. The dance moves aren’t really hard, you just have to remember them!

Here’s an example:

Where does Ceilidh come from?

Dating back to 1875, Ceilidh originates from Scotland and Ireland although its name comes from Gaelic; it’s a combination of Scottish, Irish and English folk music.

Ceilidh music and dancing (pronounced “kay-lee” and meaning “visit”) is becoming more and more popular! We are getting a number of enquiries from brides and grooms to be as well as others planning a celebration, requesting a Ceilidh band for their special event. As so many people are asking all about it we thought it would be useful to tell you what it is, where it came from and why it makes an electric party atmosphere with plenty of fizzing excitement!

Traditionally it is a gathering or social event, and it didn’t necessarily involve any dancing.  These days a Ceilidh is a sociable way to bring people together involving Scottish music and dance.

Join us every Friday

We go the Ceilidh every Friday >> http://inlingua-edinburgh.co.uk/social-programme

What Line-Up?

A Ceilidh band normally consists of two or three people, a fiddler, an accordionist and a ‘caller’ to help everyone get into the swing of things and learn the dances. But, line-ups may also include guitarists, drums, keyboards and whistles amongst other instruments.

Nowadays, the music isn’t always traditional either, it can be very contemporary as there are a number of new-style Ceilidh bands bringing a fresh slant on the old folk songs and even putting a twist on current music. This makes it funky, modern and gives you a brand new sound. There’s plenty of rock and roll influence now as well, so if you really want your guests to get down and groove check-out some of Warble Entertainment’s Ceilidh bands – they are absolutely guaranteed to get even the most reluctant dancer strutting their stuff!

Here a wee list of the usual Scottish dances that you can enjoy at a Ceilidh:

– Virginia Reel
– Military Two-Step
– Cumberland Reel
– Flying Scotsman
– Canadian Barndance
– Cumberland Square 8 (the one with the baskets)
– Circassian Circle
– St. Bernard’s Waltz

What is its role in Scottish culture?

Most people in Scotland know how to ceilidh dance.  They were taught in gym lessons at school.  It is often used to bring together two sides of a family at a wedding to start the party, or as a celebration at a work, Christmas or corporate party.

Who is a Ceilidh Suitable for?

The beauty of a ceilidh or Barn Dance is that everyone can take part, young or old, experienced dancers, to beginners and even those with two left feet! No experience is necessary! It doesn’t matter what age, ability or personality type a person is – everyone loves to get involved and no experience is necessary! It is very easy to pick up.

The dances are all varied and there are plenty of paces available, fast, slow and even mid-tempo – so if some of the dances are hard to keep up with that’s your cue to take a break and perhaps enjoy a glass of champagne or wine before you get involved again. Party-goers love the flexibility of a Ceilidh because you may get moving when you want and take a break when your feet can’t keep up any more.

If you ever get the chance to go to a Ceilidh, don’t hesitate and just go! This will be the best memory of your time in Scotland! It may seem intimidating to go to a Ceilidh, but don’t worry if you don’t know the moves, somebody will help you!

Ceilidhs are a lot of fun and they play a regular part in our social programme, so you will have plenty of time to practice once you’re here!

12 Valentine’s Day traditions around the world

12 Valentine’s Day traditions around the world

Valentine’s Day is known around the world as a celebration of love and romance where people show their affection for their loved ones, often by exchanging cards and gifts. Although the day is celebrated in many countries, the way people spend can be very different!

Here are some examples of how people celebrate Valentine’s Day in different countries around the world:

1.Valentine’s Day in Japan

Rear photo of Japanese young Couple with Kimono and Yukata enjoy fall colors at Nanzen-ji Temple, Kyoto, Japan. Autumn season destination with copy space for text.

Unlike in most Western cultures, it is traditional in Japan for women to give men gifts (often chocolate) on 14th February. A month later, on 14th March, Japan celebrates White Day, where men traditionally present women with gifts such as jewellery, clothing and chocolates that are around two or three times more valuable than the gifts they received from their partners on Valentine’s Day

2.Valentine’s Day in South Korea

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Valentine’s Day traditions in South Korea are similar to those of Japan and it is customary for women in South Korea to buy men gifts on 14th February. They also celebrate White Day one month later when the men reciprocate their feelings buy giving women gifts on 14th March.

However, after this day, South Koreans continue the tradition with Black Day where single people meet up to celebrate or mourn single life (depending on their viewpoint). Many will meet up at restaurants to eat jajangmyeon (자장면), which is made up of Korean noodles in black bean sauce and referred to as black noodles.

3.Valentine’s Day in Denmark & Norway

Candy for the one you love

On Valentine’s Day, it is customary for Danish and Norwegian men to send women Gaekkebrev which are funny poems or love letters. They send these notes anonymously and leave a small clue at the bottom of the page (a series of dots where each dot represents one letter of their name). The woman must then guess who has sent her the card and, if she is right, she will receive an Easter egg later in the year. If she fails to guess the identity of her secret admirer, she must give him an Easter egg instead.

4.Valentine’s Day in Finland & Estonia

Friends Explore Nature Outdoors Concept

On 14th February in Finland and Estonia, friendship rather than romantic love is celebrated. The day is referred to as ‘Friends’ Day’ and people exchange cards and presents with their friends.

5. Italy

Venice Sunrise

In Italy, Valentine’s Day was originally celebrated as the Spring Festival, where young couples would gather outside in gardens to enjoy poetry readings and music. It was also said that the first man a young, unmarried woman saw on Valentine’s Day would be the man she would marry.

Today, Italians celebrate Valentine’s Day by giving gifts to their partners and having candlelit dinners together. One of the most popular gifts to give are baci perugina, which are chocolate-covered hazelnuts wrapped in paper with romantic notes printed in four languages.

6. Brazil

Vem cá

Brazilians celebrate their version of Valentine’s Day or Dia dos Namorados (Lovers’ Day) on 12th June. On this day, music festivals and events take place throughout the country and gifts and cards are exchanged with friends and family as well as romantic partners.

7. South Africa

Lion snuggle

As with many Western cultures, South Africans celebrate Valentine’s Day by going on a romantic date with their loved one and exchanging cards and gifts. It is also customary for young women and some men to take part in an old Roman tradition known as Lupercalia where they pin the name of their love interest on their sleeve.

8. France

Love Lock ~ Paris, France

Today, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in France in the same way as many Western countries by giving flowers, Valentine’s cards and gifts to romantic partners and love interests.

However, an old tradition which is now banned was une loterie d’amour or ‘a drawing for love’. This custom would take place in two houses situated opposite each other where single men in one house would face single women in the other and they would call out to each other through the windows until they eventually paired off. If the men were not fond of their match, they would leave her for another man to call. All of the women who were not matched by the end would gather around a bonfire in which they burned images and belongings of the men who rejected them.

9. Philippines

Wedding in Paradiso

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the Philippines in a similar way to Western countries but it is also common for shared wedding ceremonies to take place on this day. The custom of mass wedding ceremonies has become popular in the recent years and many couples get married or renew their wedding vows together all year round.

Lovehearts

Across the UK, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the same way as many other countries and it is customary for British people to exchange flowers, cards, chocolates and other gifts with their loved one. Historically, St Valentine’s Day was celebrated differently depending on the region:

10. Valentine’s Day in Scotland

An old Scottish tradition during Valentine’s parties is to play a game where an equal number of single men and women write their names on pieced of paper which is then folded and dropped into two hats (one for men and one for women). Each woman then draws the name of one man from the hat and vice versa. If a man and woman draw matching names from their respective hats, they have to stay together throughout the evening. If a man draws a name which does not match, he has to spend the evening with the woman who drew his name from the hat. Today, the tradition is not widely practised but it is still played in some households just for fun.

11. Valentine’s Day in Wales

The Welsh equivalent to Valentine’s Day is St Dwynwen’s Day which honours the patron saint of lovers and is celebrated on the 25th January each year. On this day, hand-carved wooden spoons were traditionally given by men to their love interests. They would carve intricate designs onto the spoons’ handles which had symbolic significance. For example, wheels would signify a man’s hard work and keys would represent his heart.

12. Valentine’s Day in England

Traditionally, unmarried women in England would pin bay leaves on each corner of their pillow in the belief that they would dream of their future husband. Young ladies would also write their love interests’ names on pieces of paper and put them inside clay balls that they would drop into the water. It was believed that the name on whichever paper came up first would represent their future husband. In Norfolk in the East of English, traditional folklore tells of a character called ‘Jack Valentine’ which is said to leave presents for children on Valentines’ eve. Although it is not known how this tradition started, it is still practised amongst some families.

Lights, Camera, Action! Scotland and Edinburgh through the big screen

Lights, Camera, Action! Scotland and Edinburgh through the big screen

When learning a language, it’s always best to combine business with pleasure! Watching movies or TV shows is actually a very good method to improve your receptive skills and expand your vocabulary in a new language! The best way to work your way up to an almost-perfect understanding of an English movie is to take it slow. Try watching movies in English with subtitles in your own language at first. Then, when you feel comfortable enough, switch to English subtitles. Finally, the last step would be to watch them without any subtitles! It’s a great exercise and your English will thank you for it!

Here’s a list of a few movies and TV shows set in Scotland, full of magnificent scenery and shots of this beautiful country!

One Day (2010), Lone Scherfig

Based on the novel of the same name by David Nicholls, the story follows the lives and relationship of Emma and Dexter, respectively played by Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. The movie was partly filmed in Edinburgh: it opens and ends in the beautiful Scottish capital and features, amongst others, breath-taking views of Arthur’s Seat, Parliament Square, Calton Hill and Victoria Street.

 

 

Braveheart (1995), Mel Gibson

There is no doubt the infamous movie recounting the tale of Willian Wallace, a 13th century Scottish warrior and leader of troops against Edward I of England has brought countless people to the Highlands. The movie offers wonderful shots of the Scottish countryside including the areas near Glen Coe and Loch Leven. Another highly popular location for fans of the movie these day is the Glen Nevis Valley, which is where the crew built the village of Lanark, Wallace’s childhood home.

Ironically enough, there aren’t many other parts of Scotland featured in the movie, as the rest was shot … in Ireland (including the big battle scene).

Outlander (2014), Starz

There is no denying that Outlander has taken over the small screen in the past couple of years. The great acting and carefully though-out plotting are certainly part of the reason why, but the cinematography is undoubtedly a big part of it as well. Set in 18th century Scotland, the locations they used in the series are simply too numerous to be listed exhaustively here. Beautiful shots of landscapes, castles, lochs and villages will make you fall in love with Scotland instantly. To name but a few, Doune Castle was used for Castle Leoch, Black Castle stands in for Fort William, they set up the standing stones circle in Rannoch Moor and Midhope Castle was used for Jamie’s family home, Lallybroch or Broch Tuarach.

 

Skyfall (2012), Sam Mendes

The 2012 action movie and 23rd James Bond film contains some spectacular shots of the Scottish Highlands. In the movie, the Bond family estate is located in the Highlands and although the actual house they used was a mock up, they still filmed the Scottish landscape around Glen Etive and used it as the way leading up to that house.

 

Trainspotting (1996), Danny Boyle

Just like the book, the movie is set in Edinburgh. Nevertheless, almost all of it was filmed in Glasgow. However, you can still spot a few shots of the Scottish capital, especially in the opening chase scene of the movie.  You can see Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle, Hanover Street and Calton Road under Regent Bridge.

 

Honorary mention: Brave (2012), B. Chapman and  M. Andrews

Although not a live-action movie, I could not let this one slip. The 2012 Disney Pixar adventure film is 100% set in the medieval Scottish Highlands, and 100% inspired by Scottish culture. From the Highland Games to tartan and bagpipes, this one is a must see for a real Scottish feel. Merida’s family castle, Dunbroch, was heavily inspired by Dunnotar Castle in Aberdeenshire, south of Stonehaven. The landscapes seen in the movie when Merida travels through the countryside on her horse Angus were also inspired by real locations such as Glen Affric. Finally, some might recognise the Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis as the inspiration for the movie’s standing stones circle.

Samhuinn: Exploring the Celtic roots of Halloween in Edinburgh

Samhuinn: Exploring the Celtic roots of Halloween in Edinburgh

Did you know that Halloween customs we know and love are in fact the remnants of the ancient Scottish Samhuinn Fire Festival?

I will come as no surprise to learn that Halloween or rather, Hallowe’en, traces its origins way back to the ancient Celtic Samhuinn Festival. The celebration takes place on top of Calton Hill on the same night as Hallowe’en. The story follows the overthrowing of Summer by Winter, with a dramatic stand-off between the Summer and Winter Kings. This is overseen by the Cailleach, a Celtic representation of the Goddess, or Divine Hag, who ultimately decides each King’s fate and ushers in the colder months.

Featured images by Regis Simonetti (All rights reserved)

Many of the Halloween customs we know and love today are in fact remnants of this ancient culture, from trick-or-treating to jack-o’-lanterns. It also takes its name from All Hallows Eve, the night before the Christian festival of All Hallows or All Saints Day, when the dead were thought to return to earth to walk among the living. In the Celtic calendar, it marks the end of the lighter half (summer) and the beginning of the darker half (winter) of the year. Up to 2000 years ago, at Samhuinn Celtics honoured their ancestors and invited them home while warding off evil spirits. They wore costumes and masks to disguise themselves as harmful spirits and thus avoid harm. In the 19th century when Irish families emigrated to America in great numbers, they carried this tradition with them and the wearing of masks and costumes now survives as a Halloween custom.

Here is a video from the last edition of the Samhuinn Fire Festival in Edinburgh:

 

Until now, Samhuinn is still observed in most Celtic nations including, of course, Scotland! Among all the celebrations, the Samhuinn Fire Festival is definitely the most spectacular event with hundreds of otherworldly creatures showing up on a spooky ghostly night! Here is a selection of the best shots from last year’s event.

 

Scotland is Diverse

Scotland is Diverse

 

One of Scotland’s most famous attributes is its world-renowned reputation for providing a warm and open welcome to everyone who comes here. Whether it’s the many people who choose to live here permanently or the millions who visit Scotland each and every year, you’re sure to hear many stories of the genuine friendliness of the Scottish people.

Today in Scotland, more than 170 different languages are spoken – from Punjabi to Polish, and Cantonese to Gaelic. All these different people contribute to making Scotland a great place to live, work, study, visit or do business in!

Our diversity is something that we’re incredibly proud of and we continue to make great strides in ensuring Scotland is open to everyone. Whether it’s the thousands of refugees we’ve welcomed with open arms or the fact that we rank as one of the best countries in Europe for LGBTQI+ rights and equality, Scotland truly is a melting pot of inclusivity.