Facts, Myths, and Celebrations make Research Fun! by Nancy Lee Badger
While researching my Highland Games Through Time series, I filled binders with many dry, dust facts. My research included ancient Scottish traditions, myths, and celebrations. Though my series takes place in autumn, I found the articles concerning Hogmanay enticing. Let me share a few things I learned about Hogmanay, as well as this photo of the celebration in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Hogmanay (also spelled Hogamany or Hogamanay) is the Scots term for the last day of the year, the day we all now celebrate as New Year’ Eve and includes celebrating all the way through the next day and, sometimes, through January 2nd. When I looked deeper into the origin of Hogmanay, I found that many scholars believe that the holiday has its roots in ancient times. The Nordic tribes acknowledged the Winter Solstice, the Vikings enjoyed the Yule, and the Scots celebrated Samhain. My husband is a descendant of the Gunn clan of the northern Highlands, who themselves were descended from the Vikings, so this historical fact caught my attention. (Hubby is a 6 ft. 4 blue-eyed blond!)
While researching these celebrations, I came across a folk tale. It said that the first guest who walked across your home’s threshold after midnight on the last day of the year, called first-footing, brings good luck. To ensure this good luck, the first foot should be attached to a dark-haired male. Some believe this part of the holiday myth is a throwback to the Viking days when blond strangers arriving on your doorstep meant trouble. Guests celebrating the New Year typically bring gifts of coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and whisky. Whisky (Scottish-fermented whiskey has no ‘e’, says my research) and shortbread are what the modern day holiday provides.
Research was not needed to know that even here, in America, that it is traditional to sing Robert Burns ‘For Auld Lang Syne’ immediately after midnight. Robert Burns, the most famous poet hailing from Scotland, claimed his poem was based on an earlier fragment. The tune we all know was in print over 80 years before he published his version in 1788. Click HERE for the words in English and in Burns’ original Gaelic. I also found a lovely YouTube video of Scottish scenery accompanied by the bagpipers of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards playing the music we all associate with Robert Burns’ words.
If you let your fingers do the walking through the internet, research becomes one small and often times enjoyable facet of an author’s world. I could spend hours listening to various singers warbling their versions of Auld Lang Syne, and it wasn’t until I attended my first Robert Burns’ Birthday Bash (typically celebrated by Scots and American Scots societies) that the tune was associated with Burns. I look forward to incorporating the traditions and festivities that are Hogmanay in one of my future books. Until then, I will continue my research while I lift a glass of whisky and toast 2014.
Nancy Lee Badger
MY RELUCTANT HIGHLANDER Book Blurb
Skye has spent the last five years trying to forget the blacksmith who followed her back to 16th century Scotland, to help fight evil. Sending Jake Jamison home against his will was a disastrous mistake. She risked everything attempting to defeat Andreas Borthwick. Jake might have defeated the evil sorcerer, preventing her husband’s death. When she prevents the sorcerer from grabbing her nephew, he takes her instead. To escape, she defies time to find Jake.
The last person Jake wants to see is the young woman from ancient Scotland; the same woman who has haunted his dreams since she blackmailed him into traveling back in time. Before he could save Skye Gunn’s people, she had sent him home. Until he met Skye, his life had been normal. Quiet, and uncomplicated. No one knows he is a firebreather, except her. His ancestry is a mystery. When Skye falls into his bed—beaten, bloody and beautiful—Jake must choose to trust her, or turn his back on the only woman he’s loved across time.
Skye encourages Jake to use his ability to help her kill the sorcerer. Stealing his heart was not part of the plan. Jake must share his secret, Skye must give her heart fully, and both must dare to love in the time they have.
Nancy Lee Badger loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, Nancy moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time.
Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic &Paranormal Romance Writers, Triangle Are Freelancers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy and her family volunteer each fall at the New Hampshire Highland Games, surrounded by…kilts! Connect with Nancy…