Friday, June 6, 2008

Proudly Scottish

Ah yes, it is time to discuss a bit of culture. Since my Scottish roots go extremely deep, I decided to begin with some fun tidbits about my heritage. At an early age I was told by my mother that we had Scottish ancestors. Her grandmother, Agnes Colston, was a native of Scotland. Agnes and her mother were intrigued by the LDS Church, an interest not shared by Agnes' father. My second-great grandmother possessed a feisty, independent nature, and when her husband forbid her to have anything to do with the LDS Church, she sent their daughter (Agnes) with the Mormon missionaries who were on their way back to the United States. This did not set well with my second great-grandfather. =) Soon both mother and daughter were on their way to the States. They eventually linked up with the Church and journeyed West. Thanks to their courage we have a strong link to a wonderful legacy.

When my mother's younger brother was called to serve a mission that landed him in the heart of Ireland and Scotland, we were ecstatic. He brought back a lot of fun souvenirs and information. Among the treasures were recordings of Gaelic or Celtic music. I remember as a young girl dancing about in time to the festive music, developing a deep love for bagpipes, soft flutes, and stringed instruments. It is fascinating to study the history of Scotland, to learn about the clans, the tartans, and customs, not to mention the music. Something that we do each year to help us learn more about our Scottish ties, is to attend the annual Scottish Festival held in Payson, Utah. (This year's festival will take place July 10-12)

I would heartily recommend this event to everyone, even if you don't possess a Scottish background. You will see Gaelic dancing, men in kilts (need I say more), hear beautiful renditions of Celtic tunes, and you will be amazed by the amount of information that can be learned about the various clans.

My family is tied into several clans. (This is a Scottish way of referring to family lines). We are descendants of the Colston line (which is a sept or branch of the MacDonald line). We are also tied into the Watson, Napier, Brown, Campbell, Young, and MacDonald clans, to name a few. There are others, but these are our main lines. =) Each year we walk around to the numerous booths that represent these clans to learn more about our family lines, and to visit with those who are also descendants. Through the years we have also collected treasures. There are usually several fun booths where you can purchase souvenirs. We have found beautiful jewelry, ties and scarfs in our tartan colors, as well as clan badges to wear with our scarves. I even possess a kilt pin, should I ever decide to wear such an item and a Napier family crest with our family motto: Sans Tache, or Without Stain. It hangs in a place of honor in my computer room.

One year, as my youngest sister and I were visiting the clan booths, we came across the booth for one of our lines: Campbell. We listened sympathetically as we were told how the other Scottish Clans have always persecuted and looked down upon the Campbell clan. Feeling a bit of indignation, we proudly agreed to wear the Campbell colors that day; bits of the Campbell tartan were pinned to our sleeves. We wandered around, forgetting the warning from our brother earlier in the day who advised us to steer clear of the Campbell line. We figured he was just being a silly person and we persisted in wearing the Campbell colors. Then about an hour after visiting the Campbell booth, an older woman stood before my sister and I and glared at us defiantly. She spat on the sidewalk in front of us, jumped off the sidewalk, and stomped on past. Wondering at this, we quickly found our brother who instructed us to immediately remove the Campbell patches. He then shared why we had made a social faux pas. Turns out there is a bit of ill will still directed toward the Campbell line. In the past, most of the Scottish Clans felt that the Campbell line had betrayed them to the English. It's a Scottish version of the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. ;) The feud between the Campbell Clan and the MacDonald Clan is especially fierce, and evidently still in existence today, though it does seem to be dying down.

Our family has come up with a theory about this. Since we belong to both clans, our bodies are constantly at war with themselves. ;) This would explain our tendency to develop things like lupus (an autoimmune disease where the body basically attacks itself) and to be klutzy. We are forever falling down stairs, shutting our hands in car doors, stubbing our toes, etc.

Back to the Scottish Festival: It's fun to walk around, to savor the atmosphere, the music, the dancing competitions, and the food, as well as to watch as the Highland Games take place. Games like the tossing of the caber and the ever popular hammer throw give us a glimpse into the type of recreation that was enjoyed by our ancestors. We also thoroughly enjoy the "Massing of the Bands" ceremony that takes place on the final day of the festival. All of the bagpipe bands that competed earlier in the day gather together and march onto a nearby field to perform. They join in playing several Scottish ditties like Amazing Grace. That song always brings tears to my eyes. Something stirs deep within, a longing to someday see this homeland in person and to savor the legacy I've been fortunate enough to inherit.

Return to the Neighborhood


Cindy Beck, author said...

Wow, there's a Scottish Festival in Payson? I never knew that ... thanks for the tip!

Ya just gotta love the Scots! How can anyone hear a bagpipe and not want to wear plaid and be a part of a clan? :)

And before I forget, thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. I loved your comment about Alfred Hitchcock and the birds.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Hi C.L. Yep, there's a wonderful Scottish Festival in Payson. We try to get there each summer.

And you're welcome with regard to the Alfred Hitchcock comment. ;) Those darn birds, eh?