Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Our trip last summer to Scotland left an impression in several ways.  At the top of that list was the pride of the Scottish people in their re-telling history and carrying on traditions.  One of my favorite traditions is the Ceilidh (pronounced kay’lee).  A traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing.  We had a taste of it one evening with the visit of several young musicians sharing the traditional music true to its roots and with a modern twist.  Along the Caledonia Canal as we passed small villages you would see banners advertising the upcoming weekend Ceilidh.

“On long, dark winter nights it is still the custom in small villages for friends to collect in a house and hold what they call a “ceilidh”. Young and old are entertained by the reciters of old poems and legendary stories which deal with ancient beliefs, the doings of traditional heroes and heroines, and so on. Some sing old and new songs set to old music or new music composed in the manner of the old.”
Mackenzie, Donald A., Wonder tales from Scottish myth and legend, 1917

Our tour guide, Paul, described a recent birthday party for his nephew.  Attended by young teenagers and parents, the gathering started with rap and hip-hop music to the dismay of all the adults.  But, the parents figured it was the kids’ party and they would support whatever they wanted; although Paul had made up his mind to make a short evening.   Without any prompting about 30 minutes in, the kids pulled out an assortment of fiddles, accordions, drums and guitars and began playing the traditional Scottish tunes.  Everyone joined in with the singing and dancing.  The party became an spontaneous Ceilidh and no one left until dawn.

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