January 25th is Burns Night in Scotland. For those unfamiliar with Burns night, it’s a celebration of the life and work of the famous Scottish author, Robert Burns. Traditionally, a Burns supper is held, complete with pipers, poetry, and haggis. Such an occasion sounds like a great opportunity to plan another Around the World party. So its off to Scotland we go! This rugged, beautiful land is rich in culture, history, and tradition just waiting to be explored!
No doubt kilts are one of the first things that comes to mind when thinking about Scotland. The first kilts appeared in Scotland in the 16th century. But it wasn’t until the 1700’s that what would become the modern day kilt was invented. The tartan used to make a kilt and the accessories that adorn it are often symbolic. One of the most famous accessories for a kilt is a sporran. A sporran, which is Scottish Gaelic for “purse”, serves as a kilt’s pockets. It’s a pouch that’s worn around the waste. Sporrans come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and styles.
This fun craft lets kids decorate their very own sporran using buttons, tassels, fabric paint, and more. Unless you’re working with kids that know a lot about sewing, I recommend making the sporrans beforehand so kids can focus on decorating. This is a great opportunity to teach older kids basic sewing techniques, like how to sew on a button. Younger kids can use fabric glue to attach the accessories. Download the PDF above for more instructions.
Source: Happy Thought
The thistle has been the national emblem of Scotland since the 13th century. Found throughout Scotland, this spiky, prickly weed was a symbol of nobility to the ancient Celts. Legend has it that one night, as an army of Scottish warriors slept, an invading Norse army crept up, hoping to ambush the sleeping Scots. However, one of the invading soldiers stepped on a thistle and cried out in pain, awakening the Scots. This fun, easy craft I found uses paper and a few other simple supplies to create an adorable thistle. Check out the link above for more instructions.
Other Fun Crafts
You probably already know that modern golf was invented in Scotland. The first recorded mention of golf came in 1457, when King James II banned the sport because he considered it a distraction to learning archery. About 50 years later, King James IV lifted the ban and became a golfer himself. What could be more exciting than playing golf indoors? You can set up your own mini golf course with just a few simple items. Mark out a course using tape. Use everyday items like books and towels as traps and obstacles. You can make clubs out of wooden dowels or PVC pipe, Styrofoam blocks, and duct tape. Just wrap duct tape around the Styrofoam blocks and them tape them to the dowels. I also recommend using ping pong balls instead of real golf balls.
Or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, I found this fun tutorial on how to put together your own Backyard Highland Games.
While haggis is typically the star of a Burns supper, I decided to go with something a little more kid friendly. Shortbread is a rich Scottish cookie usually made from one part sugar, two parts butter, and three parts flour. The first printed recipes appeared in Scotland in 1736, but the history of shortbread can be traced clear back to the 12th Century. In fact, shortbread flavored with caraway seeds was supposedly a favorite treat of Mary, Queen of Scots. Shortbread is a particularly great recipe for young bakers to try because it’s so simple to make. So put on some Scottish music, grab your ingredients and some cookie cutters, and enjoy a fun afternoon baking!
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup salted butter, softened
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until it's light, fluffy, and pale.
- Add the sugar to the butter and beat until well combined.
- Mix the flour into the creamed butter and sugar 1/2 cup at a time until all the flour has been incorporated.
- Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Unwrap the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out the cookies using lightly floured cookie cutters. Place the cookies on the lined baking sheet.
- Bake the cookies for 25-30 minutes, or until firm and lightly golden brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
It’s time to add a Scotland stamp to your Around the World Passport!
What are some of your other favorite Scottish customs and traditions? Let me know in the comments below! I guess mine would be the stereotypical Scottish stubbornness that I seem to have inherited from my Scottish ancestors. 😂 If you enjoyed this wee post, please share it with your friends!