By Diana Ramos Soto WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT SCOTLAND?
YOU WILL LEARN: Its geographical location and the main cities and towns. The core elements of the culture of Scotland. Myths: loch ness. The own language: Gaelic. Other traditions: Céilidh.
Scotland is the land of fairytales and natural wonders. By getting here, the entire magical world of the leprechauns, elves and dwarfs drag you in the heart of the island. Old and full of history monuments and buildings, waste and wild beaches emanating calm and freedom, all enchant you step by step and attract you like a magnet. When you hear the word ‘Scotland’, some specific icons may come to your mind, such as tartan, whisky, Nessie or bagpipes. But Scotland means much more than that. You’d probably feel surprised if you discover all the amazing musical culture you can find in Glasgow, the magic of its natural landscapes, the extremely moody weather or the kindness of their people. In
this cultural issue, you’ll find out all this and much more. And that’s one thing which is for sure: you’ll really want to travel there after this lesson. Let’s start with some basic knowledge. Scotland belongs to the United Kingdom. It occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain and it shares a border with England to the south. Scotland is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and north; and by the North Sea to the west. The capital, Edinburgh, is Scotland’s second largest city and it’s one of Europe’s largest financial centres. Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, used to be one of the world’s leading industrial cities. Other important cities are Aberdeen, Dundee or Inverness.
BREATHTAKING LANDSCAPES If there’s something that Scottish are proud of are the beautiful geography of their country. Across the land you’ll find absolutely breathtaking places, especially in the Highlands. The Highlands are a mountainous region of central and northern Scotland extending northwest and including the Grampian Mountains.
Eilean Donan Castle
As told, the Highlands are famous for its rugged beauty, the area maintained a highly distinctive culture,
based on the Scottish Gaelic language and the clan system, until the 19th century. Some lovely landscapes you can find here are, for example, Glencoe, The isle of Skye, Stonehaven, Ben Nevis, The Eilean Donan Castle or the Oarkney Islands. And of course, although Edinburgh is a city which is not located in the Highlands, its beauty might take your breath away as well. Scotland is all beauty!
SCOTLAND’S TWO MAIN CITIES. GET TO KNOW THEM EDINBURGH Edinburgh has been recognised as the capital of Scotland since at least the 15th century. The city is also home to many national institutions such as the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery. Edinburgh’s economy, traditionally centred on banking, insurance and a wide range of businesses, makes it the biggest financial centre in the UK after London. Many Scottish companies have their head offices there.
The city is rich in historical associations and has many surviving historic buildings, including Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, the churches of St. Giles, Greyfriars and the Cannongate, and an extensive Gregorian New Town built in the 18th century. Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has long been known abroad as a centre of education, particularly in the fields of medicine, Scots law, sciences and engineering.
Edinburgh sight seen from the Carlton Hill
You really should check this site out for further information about Edinburgh: www.edinburgh.org GLASGOW Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and the 3rd largest city in the UK. It is located in on the River Clyde in the country’s West Central Lowlands. Inhabitants of the city are referred to as Glaswegians. With the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the population and economy of Glasgow expanded rapidly to become one of the world’s most important centre of chemicals, textiles and engineering. In the last century, the population grew so much, so in the
1960s new towns and several peripheral suburbs were built. Glasgow is also known by the wide range of cultural activities that it offers, from curling to opera and ballet and from football to art appreciation. The Glasgow’s two most famous football teams are really well known: the Celtic and the Glasgow Rangers. But we couldn’t keep on talking about Glasgow culture without mentioning the music scene. The city has many live music venues, pubs and clubs. In recent
years, some Glaswegian bands have reached high success, such as Franz Ferdinand, Snow Patrol or Belle and Sebastian. Regarding the academia, Glasgow is a major centre of academic research, with four universities within 16 km. The most remarkable is the University of Glasgow, which is the fourth oldest university in the English-speaking world and it’s among the world’s top 100 universities. The beauty of its main building can’t go unnoticed.
Aston Lane, one of the loveliest streets in Glasgow, famous for its venues and pubs.
The University of Glasgow main building
SOME CULTURAL ICONS OF SCOTLAND KILTS
The kilt is a knee-length garnment, originating in the traditional dress of men and boys in the Highlands of the 16th century. Since the 19th century, it has been associated with the culture of Scotland in general, or with Celtic heritage. It’s most often made of woollen cloth in a tartan pattern.
Haggis are a savoury pudding containing sheep’s heart, liver and lungs; minced with onion, oatmeal, spices, and salt, mixed with stock and traditionally encased in the animal's stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. It is considered the national dish of Scotland.
SCOTCH WHISKY Scotch whisky is malt or grain whisky made in Scotland. Scotch whisky must be made in a manner specified by law. All Scotch whisky was originally made from malt barley. Commercial distilleries began introducing whisky made from wheat and rye in the late 18th century. Scotch whisky is divided into several distinct categories. If you travel to Scotland, there’s the possibility to visit a whisky distillery.
THE GREAT HIGHLAND BAGPIPE The Great Highland Bagpipe is a type of bagpipe native to Scotland. It has achieved widespread recognition through its use in the British military and in pipe bands all over the world. The earliest references to bagpipes in Scotland are in a military context and nowadays they enjoy widespread prominence.
IRN-BRU It’s a Scottish carbonated caffeinated soft drink, orange-coloured and very sweet, often described as “Scottish other’s national drink” (obviously, after Scotch).
THE LOCH NESS MONSTER MYTH The famous Loch Ness’ monster, called Nessie, is a legendary creature which lives deep under the water of Loch Ness, a deep lake located in the north of Scotland. Together with Big Foot and Yeti, Nessie is perhaps the most widespread “mystery” on cryptology.
The rumours about the existence of Nessie have been heard for 1,500 years, although the credibility and veracity of these stories have always been questioned.
Along the years several sightings of Nessie have been made, like in 1933 A. H. Palmer saw the creature, which according to his description, had its head out from the water and its mouth measured about 30 and 45 centimetres.
Many local inhabitants have stated arguments in favour the existence of the monster, but there are also many sceptics who say that those rumours about Nessie are a way to boost tourism and local folklore.
SCOTTISH GAELIC. SCOTLAND’S NATIVE LANGUAGE Scottish Gaelic is a native language of Scotland which has Celtic origins. A recent census showed that only 1.2% of the Scottish population could speak it properly at the time the census was made, showing a decline of speakers from a previous census. In spite of the loss of speakers, big revival efforts are being made and the number of young speakers has increased lately. Scottish Gaelic is not an official language of the UK but it is classed as an autochtonous language under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Do you want to read something in Gaelic? Here there’s a very brief introduction of what Gaelic is, more or less what we have just explained in English above. Easy, isn’t it?
'S i cànan dùthchasach na h-Alba a th' anns a' Ghàidhlig. 'S i ball den teaghlach de chànanan Ceilteach dhen mheur Ghoidhealach a tha anns a' Ghàidhlig.
OTHER TRADITIONS. CÉILIDH Céilidh is a Scottish celebration which includes a traditional dance, although nowadays it can be found as well in other countries with population of immigrant descent. In the past, céilidh was any social meeting, sometimes without dance. In fact, many of these gatherings had a literary nature, as well as the festive atmosphere. However, in the last decades the meaning of céilidh has changed and now, it only refers to dance.
Although nowadays Cèilidh has been replaced by discos and clubbing in a great extent, it is still an important tradition in rural areas, especially in Gaelic-speaker areas. It’s common to see a Céilidh dancing in weddings or other kind of events such as school festivals. The music played to dance Céilidh is often cheerful and the steps to dance are very easy to learn.
Watch this video to watch a Céilidh dancing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62sim5knB-s
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