A long time before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, before the abolition of slavery and serfdom, Scots were proud to say that We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s Bairns.
Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League, is a man I have struggled to accept. His open racism and Islamophobia have turned my stomach. Yet he and I share much in common.
To me 'Sleekit' and 'Cow'rin' were terms of contempt, describing the very worst qualities in people. Sly and cowardly in a single person falls short of anything approximating a compliment. It struck me as odd that the ploughman would describe the wee mouse he had just made homeless before winter as Sleekit and Cow'rin, but he does.
In all likelihood the Ho’din’ O’ Hogmanay predates the celebration of Christmas in Scotland. Believe it or not, Christmas is quite a new holiday in Scotland. It was only made a public holiday in 1958 and many places of work in the industrial south were still operational on the day well into the late 60s.
Why, for example, would a people so utterly besotted with sugar and fatty foods – as many Scots have been (myself included) – reckon that only millionaires would slap a layer of caramel and chocolate atop their shortbread?
Long Scots tradition had it, even in the midst of austere Calvinism, that oan the nicht o’ Samhain the de’il an’ aw his dubh yins wad be aboon. It was a night of bogles, carlins, and the odd lurking kelpie. Auld yarns and songs, in a time when even the adults swore by their encounters with the banshee, made sure the bairns were terrified.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.
At some point in the story of the Christian community the Church became the preserve of the well-to-do, the polite, and the fashionable, and was forever lost to poor, the outcasts, and the simple working people who were the earliest Christians. Up to this point in history the Christian faith was the laughing stock of the wealthy and privileged, it was the comical cult of a criminal provincial holy man, and better suited to fishermen and the lowest class of prostitutes.