This is going to sound weird but hear us out. It’s time to tap into your inner Scotsman or Scotswoman if you want to make it through the bleak winter months. You see, the Scottish know how to do this time of year. In fact, the Scottish have really got it down, so dig into your family tree and see how far back you have to go to find a Campbell or a MacDonald.
So, now that you’ve established that you’re one-sixteenth Scottish or even a 32nd, it’s time to explain why those north of the border really know how to winter. (And if you didn’t find any Scottish blood, then you know that they’re really rather friendly and they’ll adopt you anyway).
St Andrew’s Day
We’ve had Bonfire Night and it’s a while to go until Christmas, so we really need another celebration to keep us going. Step up St Andrew’s Day. November 30th is dedicated to Scotland’s patron saint and is, of course, a good opportunity for a knees up. By this time in the year it’s getting quite cold and dark, so hearty Scottish food and drink feels totally appropriate.
And, if you didn’t find any Scottish in your bloodline, St Andrew is also the patron saint of Greece, Romania and Barbados. Good to know!
Cosagach and coorie
You’ve probably heard of hygge – we mean who hasn’t?! – but if you like your fuzzy cosiness coming from closer to home then look no further than the Scottish. They have two answers to the Danish trend – cosagach and coorie.
While cosagach is said to mean something that is warm, cosy and sheltered, coorie is all about feeling contented by the things around you. To make the most of these two trends, we feel a mash-up is in order. Basically, build yourself a nest of cosy and warm things and then be contented by it.
Let’s be honest, by Boxing Day everyone is a bit sick of turkey and the many different ways that your mum tries to serve it up. OK, let’s be really honest and admit that we actually feel a bit fed up of it halfway through Christmas dinner. Thankfully, there’s another festive alternative that is lighter, sweeter and frankly not as dry as turkey and it’s delicious smoked salmon.
The waters of Scotland produce wonderful salmon and some of the companies that smoke it have been in business for more than 100 years. In 2003, Scottish salmon received European Protected Geographical Indication, which basically puts it in the same category as Champagne, which, by the way, goes really well with your Boxing Day smoked salmon.
South of the border it’s just plain old New Year’s Eve, but in Scotland it’s the much more interesting sounding Hogmanay. They take seeing in the new dawn so seriously in fact that they have an extra day of holiday to get over the festivities. That’s right, when we’re all dragging ourselves out of bed to go to work on January 2nd, they’re still enjoying the time off. If that’s not a reason to decide you’re part Scottish, I don’t know what is.
There are lots of local Hogmanay traditions throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK has even adopted some of them. Auld Lang Syne, which everyone enthusiastically links arms for and nobody knows the second verse to, was of course written by Scottish poet Robert Burns. Edinburgh is generally considered to be one of the best places to celebrate Hogmanay, so head north if you want to really embrace the Scottish spirit.
Speaking of Scottish spirits, nothing warms you through on a cold winter’s evening than a glass of whisky and you can’t beat a single malt. If you want to sound knowledgeable as you enjoy ‘a wee dram’ with friends, then there’s a few things to remember, the first of which is that there is never an ‘e’ in Scottish whisky.
The next thing to know is that they are categorised by the regions, with Islay whiskies having notes of iodine and peat, while Speyside malts tend to be light and grassy or rich and sweet. The winter months are a good time to try multiple whiskies and learn to tell the difference!