January 2023      Title   Past Issues

In this Issue:

  Burns Dinner   Favorite Songs
  Hogmanay Celebration   Snippets from Scotland
  2023 Games Planning   A Word from our Advertisers

Burns Dinner

Continuing the custom of honoring Robert Burns, there will be a dinner of haggis, neeps and tatties (turnip and potatoes for the uninitiated), Scottish music, toasts – appropriate and otherwise – and what is billed as "a healthy portion of boisterous revelry".

The event will take place on 26 January at 6 pm in the University Club of Phoenix, 39 East Monte Vista Road, just off Central Avenue in downtown Phoenix.

The ticket price is $59.50 per person and ticket availability is limited so those wanting to attend should make reservations quickly online at:


Kilts and clan attire are recommended

Hogmanay Celebration

New Year – or Hogmanay – is a bigger annual festival than Christmas in Scotland, the only place where this is the case. Christmas Day did not become a public holiday in Scotland until 1958. So what is the reason? This article by Ben Johnson should help explain.

”Only one nation in the world can celebrate the New Year or Hogmanay with such revelry and passion – the Scots! But what are the actual origins of Hogmanay, and why should a tall dark-haired stranger be a welcome visitor after midnight?

It is believed that many of the traditional Hogmanay celebrations were originally brought to Scotland by the invading Vikings in the early 8th and 9th centuries. These Norsemen, or men from an even more northerly latitude than Scotland, paid particular attention to the arrival of the Winter Solstice or the shortest day, and fully intended to celebrate its passing with some serious partying.

In Shetland, where the Viking influence remains strongest, New Year is still called Yules, deriving from the Scandinavian word for the midwinter festival of Yule.

It may surprise many people to note that Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and virtually banned in Scotland for around 400 years, from the end of the 17th century to the 1950s. The reason for this dates back to the years of Protestant Reformation, when the straight-laced Kirk proclaimed Christmas as a Popish or Catholic feast, and as such needed banning.

And so it was, right up until the 1950s that many Scots worked over Christmas and celebrated their winter solstice holiday at New Year, when family and friends would gather for a party and to exchange presents which came to be known as hogmanays.

There are several traditions and superstitions that should be taken care of before midnight on the 31st December: these include cleaning the house and taking out the ashes from the fire, there is also the requirement to clear all your debts before "the bells" sound midnight, the underlying message being to clear out the remains of the old year, have a clean break and welcome in a young, New Year on a happy note.

Immediately after midnight it is traditional to sing Robert Burns' "Auld Lang Syne". An integral part of the Hogmanay party, which is continued with equal enthusiasm today, is to welcome friends and strangers with warm hospitality and of course lots of enforced kissing for all.

"First footing" (or the "first foot" in the house after midnight) is still common across Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house the first foot should be a dark-haired male, and he should bring with him symbolic pieces of coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and a wee dram of whisky. The dark-haired male bit is believed to be a throwback to the Viking days, when a big blonde stranger arriving on your door step with a big axe meant big trouble, and probably not a very happy New Year!

The firework displays and torchlight processions now enjoyed throughout many cities in Scotland are reminders of the ancient pagan parties from those Viking days of long ago.

The traditional New Year ceremony would involve people dressing up in the hides of cattle and running around the village whilst being hit by sticks. The festivities would also include the lighting of bonfires and tossing torches. Animal hide wrapped around sticks and ignited produced a smoke that was believed to be very effective in warding off evil spirits: this smoking stick was also known as a Hogmanay.

Games Planning Update

Society President David McBee reports: "We are into the final months. Vendors are coming in, event paperwork and permitting process will be underway soon. We will have more of almost everything this year including seating and food vendors, more on site parking."

2023 Games poster

Favorite Songs

It was inevitable that two Society members would eventually pick the same favorite Scottish song, but no surprise that the first ‘doubler’ would be the classic ballad ‘Caledonia. Here, CSA founder Len Wood explains why the song is his Scottish number one.

"After a long day of cycling around the Ring of Kerry, my wife Kathy and I settled in to dinner in a hotel in Cahirciveen. The meal was definitely Irish, meat, potatoes, a vegetable and probably a dollop of mayonnaise and the music was wonderful. It turned out to be a CD, "A Woman’s Heart" and our favorite cut was "Caledonia" sung by Dolores Keane. If it's new to you, I highly recommend it.

The song was written by Dougie McLean while busking with Irish musicians in Europe and speaks of his love and homesickness for Caledonia (Scotland), "Let me tell you that I love you." Sometime later, I heard an interview with Dougie, in which he told of returning to the hostel at the end of the day with his Irish companions. There he sang "Caledonia" for them and the next morning, they were all so homesick they left the continent for home.

Here is Dolores Keane’s version: www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAks-nwSB5o

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Snippets from Scotland

Snippet from The Scotsman

At this time of year, the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, it is appropriate to look at the Scottish love for its national dish of haggis – and why it is banned in the United States.


Snippet from The BBC

The manuscript of one of the most famous literary works of the great Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott is to go on public display. The Rob Roy manuscript will be displayed at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh from March.

Snippet from The Press and Jouornal

Coinneach (Kenneth) MacLeod, aka the Hebridean Baker, has been talking about the most successful year of his ‘foodie’ career and his hopes for 2023..

A Word from our Advertisers

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