For auld lang syne

Wishing you all a happy Hogmanay and good health for 2023

I hope you get to enjoy some Scottish traditions with family and friends.

A few of my favourites are ‘redding the house’, ‘first footing’ and eating steak pie.

I discovered a new one this year — a ‘Black Bun’.

A bit like a fruit cake but with a glorious Scottish twist. Raisins, currants, almonds, citrus peel, allspice, ginger, cinnamon and black pepper — then the whole thing is enveloped in a layer of pastry.

Of course, it is!

A peerie tune for the bells

Sadly, my busted lungs have meant I couldn’t record a version of Auld Lang Syne as hoped. However, I did come across a live studio performance by Dougie MacLean.

I’ve always loved Dougie’s recorded version of this song, and this performance doesn’t disappoint.

It’s an arrangement in the traditional Scots dialect, and he uses characterful phrasing to hang on to each line — just enough. The open tuning is soothing and gives the song lots of space.

Dec 31, 2017 ‘Auld Lang Syne’- Music and Lyrics by Trad. (Robert Burns). Arranged by Dougie MacLean. Published by Limetree Arts and Music (PRS & MCPS UK)

The phrase “auld lang syne” roughly translates as 'for old times' sake'.

To me, ‘Auld Lang Syne’, (poem and song), is full of nostalgia, evoking a sense of belonging, reflection and friendship — ideal for Hogmanay.

Did Burns write it?

In 1788 Robert Burns sent the poem 'Auld Lang Syne' to the Scots Musical Museum, explaining that it was an ancient song but that he'd been the first to record it on paper.

“Auld lang syne—the following song, the old Song of the olden times, & which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript, untill I took it down from an old man’s singing;” (Robert Burns)

It’s true enough that some of the lyrics could be considered “collected” rather than composed by Burns. A similar ballad, ‘Old Long Syne’, was printed in 1711 by James Watson.

At the time, Burns was looking to preserve the Scots language and culture after Scotland and England had formed the UK in 1707.

He travelled around the country to collect and publish old Scots poetry and songs so that this part of Scotland’s spoken history wouldn’t disappear.

New illustration art print

An upside to resting in bed means I’m enjoying extra time on Procreate. I’ll look forward to doing another illustration print giveaway in January.

‘Auld Lang Syne’ illustration by Kat Healy, Dec 2022

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Here’s to a new year

My favourite Hogmanay Scottiscism has to be:

Lang may yer lum reek!

It literally translates as “long may your chimney smoke!” — possibly connected to the first footing tradition of bringing some coal into the house.

It can be shared as a simple new year’s blessing, “may you live a long and prosperous life”.

And with that, I’ll sign off for some Lemsip. I look forward to all that comes in 2023 — thank you for being here!

Kat x

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