It is perhaps
more by their differences than similarities that the Scots can
be defined, but for all that, they are immensely proud of their
nation and its institutions.
be dour but equally they can flash with inspiration and humor.
Most all Scots delight in self-deprecating humour and continue
to honour their tradition of hospitality. Generally speaking most
foreign tourists to Scotland make the mistake of moving their
location every day, and thus denying themselves the opportunity
to really get to know some of the locals.
long been noted for their frugality, which they have exaggerated
and turned into jokes about themselves. But perhaps the best-known
feature of Scottish society through the ages is that of the clans,
groups of families sharing a common ancestor and the same name.
Many Scots still feel strong kinship with their clan, and many
Scottish traditions have their origins in that system. Scots are
a gregarious people and enjoy company, whether this be in a small
group in the local pub, or at a Ceilidh ( which means literally,
a " visit ".) And Scots love to visit with people from
other countries - if you'll give the time.
Gaelic, the old Celtic tongue of the Scots, is now spoken by little
more than 75,000 people, most of them in the Highlands and the
Hebrides. By their acceptance and use of the English translation
of the Bible, the Scottish reformers of the 16th century in effect
adopted English as the national language. But as any singer of
"Auld Lang Syne" knows, the Scots have made the English
they speak peculiarly their own. They have retained a high percentage
of vocabulary derived from Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon, and they
speak with a lilt. Indeed, " Scots " is an actual "
language " all on its own.
Scottish Presbyterians have been meeting in 'kirk sessions"
ever since John Knox thundered his fiery sermons from the pulpit
of St. Giles in the 1560's. Today, their denomination is the official,
as well as the largest, church in the country. The Church of Scotland,
as it is called, claims the adherence of nearly half the population.
Roman Catholics, particularly strong in the western Highlands,
make up the second-largest group of worshippers.
To the Scots, education is extremely important, and they start
sending their children to school at 5 years of age. At 12, Scottish
youngsters generally graduate from elementary to secondary schools,
where they must continue until they are 16. Higher education may
be pursued at eight universities and dozens of other specialized
institutions. Four of the Scottish universities, those of St.
Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh, are more than 400 years
About three-fourths of Scotland is used for agriculture, crop
cultivation and animal husbandry. But Scotland is still deficient
in food production and must rely on imports. Manufacturing was
once the mainstay of its economy. With the exploitation of the
North Sea natural gas and oil deposits, the extractive industries
have entered a new phase and become of major importance.
such as steelmaking and ship-building, have been the backbone
of the manufacturing sector since the Industrial Revolution. Glasgow
is still the principal marine engineering center in the United
Kingdom. But foreign competition has forced diversification of
industries and spurred a movement into high technology and consumer
goods. Electronics and computers are among the notable new products
from Scottish plants. Scotch tweed and textiles are still in demand,
and the nation's world-famous whisky
distilleries continue to flourish.
to be Scotland's chief mineral resource, but since the 1970's,
coal has been eclipsed by oil. Most of Britain's offshore oil
fields are in Scottish waters, and Aberdeen has evolved into head-quarters
of the new oil industry. Large refineries have been established
at Grangemouth and Dundee.
of the country's farmland, especially in the Highlands and Southern
Uplands, is used for grazing sheep and cattle. Scotland is famous
for its breeds of cattle, Aberdeen-Angus, Galloway, and others,
and the peculiar Scottish blackface sheep produce the wool for
its tweeds. The major crops raised on the other half of the farmland,
the best of which is in the Central Lowlands, are barley, oats,
wheat, hay, and potatoes.
and the closing of some traditional fishing grounds in the North
Atlantic have created difficulties for many Scottish fishermen.
Fishing, however, is still a major industry. Crabs and lobsters
are taken in coastal waters, and cod, haddock, and other white
fish as far away as Greenland and the White Sea. My own hometown
used to be one of the largest Herring ports in Europe. Those days
are long gone now - just as the Herring themselves disappeared
one day from the fishing banks in the North Sea.
Sports, Culture And The Arts
Scotland is renowned as the home of golf, but " soccer "
is without doubt the national passion, and England the favourite
opponent. Other popular sports include hill-walking, skiing, rugby,
shinty, lawn-bowling, fishing, darts and curling. There are also
great annual Highland
Games held throughout the country during the summer months.
In addition, almost every village in Scotland hosts an annual
Fair or Fete.
an excellent program of the performing arts. The Edinburgh Festival
and Fringe is the largest celebration of its kind in the world,
and there are literally hundreds of smaller festivals. The key
to enjoying Scotland is to stay flexible and keep your eyes open
for local events. Many wonderful Jumble Sales, Craft and Antique
Fairs, Folk Nights, Ceilidhs and the like will only be advertised
in the most local of newspapers. Or simply by a single billboard
and a few posters.
of Music and Song emanating from Scotland is truly amazing. There
is something for everybody, ranging from Opera, Gaelic Song, Bagpipes,
Country, Accordion, Fiddle, Contemporary Folk, and so on. Traditional
music has experienced a renaissance with influences from all over
the world. With an estimated four Scots, such as myself, living
abroad, for every one living in the homeland, this influence is
not surprising. Bands like Macumba combine bagpipes with Brazilian
percussion to wonderful effect. Groups such as Runrig and Wolfestone
are famous for their brand of electric folk, whilst individuals
such as Rod Stewart and Sheena Easton sing to the world in a Scottish
accent. Scottish Bands and performers constantly tour the world,
and may in fact be more readily seen abroad than at home.
on offer are the various delights of Scottish Country Dancing,
Highland and Ceilidh Dancing, Ballet and Contemporary Dance. The
Scottish Film industry is booming, following the success of Local
Hero and other movies. And of course Scotland was the setting
for movies such as Braveheart and Rob Roy.
a minority of Scots speak Gaelic, the language has been boosted
by increased funding for Gaelic Radio and Television Programmes.
Scottish Literature continues to be extremely strong, with no
shortage of respected authors and poets following in the long
literate tradition of Scotland.