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Scottish Wedding Traditions

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! The shops are full of cards, hearts and chocolates and love is in the air! With many romantic Scots planning a Valentine’s Day Proposal or indeed a Valentine’s Day Wedding; here at Houston’s HQ we thought we’d fill you in on some age old traditions for your traditional Scottish wedding!

Firstly, it is customary for the gentleman to ask his girlfriends Father for her hand in marriage. Although this tradition has become less popular of late it is still practised. Many couples will have an engagement party to celebrate the union, you know us Scots; any excuse for a party! The party will of course be filled with family, friends, loved ones, dancing and of course celebratory drinks to toast the happy couple.

At the wedding ceremony there are many traditions which are carried out at almost every wedding. One of the most important is music . Bagpipes are of course symbolic of traditional Scottish music but there are often other instruments involved such as the harp. This may be involved in the wedding ceremony and then carry on afterwards at the reception.

Dress code is of course a very important factor in any wedding. However in Scotland it is suggested that the couple state the dress code on their wedding invitation. Dress code is often dependant on the venue and time of day. For ladies the dress code would imply whether or not they should wear a hat. However; more importantly for the men it would be outlined if they should wear Highlandwear, morning wear, lounge suits, black tie or smart casual.

If the groom wears a kilt it is suggested all his grooms men wear matching attire. Tartan for the kilt is a personal choice. Some men choose their family or clan tartan but others will choose a colour which coordinates with the bridesmaids dresses. Organising kilt hire is one of the Best Man’s duties. Best man duties include looking after the groom before, during and after the wedding. Duties also include organising the hires of outfits for the groomsmen. This includes fittings, collection and return of hires, etc.

One of the most important (and for the men nerve racking) traditions is the toasts. Tradition dictates that the father of the bride prepares a speech and at the end offers the first toast to the bride and groom. This speech usually offers advice and well wishes for the future and is often filled with funny anecdotes from the brides childhood or personal stories about hid daughter and new son in law. The groom will then give his wedding toast, which generally includes special thanks his parents, the bridal party, and to all those involved in organising the big day. The best man is the last to toast. This toast is normally the most dreaded by the groom as tradition states that it be filled with funny or even embarrassing stories about the groom!

Thereafter tradition states that everyone attending must join the bride in groom in making their special day the best day of their lives!

On that note Houston’s would like to wish all those proposing ad getting married this year all the luck in the world! If you have any further questions regarding this blog please don’t hesitate to comment below. Or if you wish to hire or buy highland wear for a wedding visit our website

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Tips on Wearing a Kilt!

Highland wear can be a tricky business! Especially for men wearing a kilt for the first time. It’s a whole new experience and we want to make sure you get everything just right so your outfit looks perfect! Houston Kiltmakers want to assist you any way we can so have a look below at our useful hints and tips on highland wear!

1. Put your socks on first; make sure ribs on socks are running vertical and not twisted. Top of socks should be parallel and same length. Put the garter flashes on socks to the outside of your leg, making sure there is a three to four inch gap between the top of the socks and bottom of the kilt. About one inch below the knee is an ideal resting point for your socks.

2. Put your sgian dubh down the right leg of your sock. If you are left handed it can be worn down your left leg.

3. Put your ghillie brogue shoes on, twist the laces three to four times and take round back of the calf. Return them to the front of your shin about 2/3 of the way up and tie in a normal bow quite firmly and show to the front or side as preferred. If you find the laces are constantly slipping down and becoming loose then wrap them lower down your leg or round your ankle a couple of times.

4. Put on your shirt making sure any creases are ironed out, and put your cufflinks on.

5. Make sure the kilt pin is on the front apron only, on the fringed side of your kilt about two inches from the bottom and side of the fringe.

6. Put your kilt on making sure it is a good fit and it sits well up (about one and a half inches above the hip bone). Then look at the front apron and make sure the centre line is down the middle of the kilt so it is well balanced with pleats to the back. When looking in the mirror the kilt should be in an A shape with the sides well balanced.

7. Clip the chain strap onto the sporran, then put the chain strap through the kilt belt loops and fasten your sporran at the back of the kilt. Make sure the sporran is centred to front apron, positioned about four to five inches below the top of the kilt. You can rest the chain strap on top of the kilt buckles if you wish. This will secure the sporran a bit better.

8. Then put the belt and buckle on covering the chain strap. We recommend jacket wearing a belt as if you remove your jacket and waistcoat during an event the outfit will look bare, so we include a belt with all our hires. Check that the belt buckle is about one to two inches above the sporran.

9. If you are wearing a shoulder plaid, fasten under your left hand jacket lapel and fasten with plaid brooch onto jacket only.

10. Put on your waistcoat, then jacket. Make sure the jacket is fitting square on, with the waistcoat buttons, tie, sporran, buckle and kilt centre line all straight up and down. If driving to a venue, we advise that you hang the jacket up in the back and put it on when you get out the car. Try not to drive with your jacket on as it may crease.

11. Finally put on your tie, bow, ruche or standard tie.

12. Make sure you have a dram in your sporran flask and have an optional sprig of heather for your button hole.

We hope this information helps! Please comment below with any questions!

Houston Traditional Kiltmakers Est. 1909

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Burns Supper, Honouring Robert Burns

Bute Heather Tartan Kilt Collection
Bute Heather Tartan Kilts

A very poignant date in the Scottish calender is 25th January… Burn’s Night. Burn’s night is the birthday of arguably Scotland’s most famous poet and lyricist. On this night we celebrate the life and works of Robert Burn’s or as he is referred to locally in Scotland ‘Rabbie’. Known globally for the beautiful ‘auld lang syne’ Rabbie Burns is one of Scotland’s most credited individuals, so it is only fitting that we celebrate him with a night of poetry, dancing, dining and a few whiskeys!

Burn’s supper can consist of a family gathering or a formal organised event. For the big Burn’s events there are a range of traditions which must be included. At the start of the evening a piper will normally play as the guests arrive. After guests have arrived the host or organiser will welcome and introduce the guests and the evening’s entertainment.

Afterward a prayer known as The Selkirk Grace is read thanking God for the food we are about to receive.

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

This is then proceeded with Piping in the Haggis. Haggis is brought to the room, and at this stage guests would normally stand. Haggis is introduced to the room on a silver platter by the chef, the piper and the person who will address the Haggis. When the haggis is placed on the table the piper will stop and guests will once again be seated.

Then comes the important prospect of ‘Addressing the Haggis’. A tradition in which one individual will recite ‘To a Haggis’ and cut the haggis with a knife which is met by applause from the guests. The host will then raise a glass to toast the haggis and will prompt the audience to join in by raising a glass and shouting, ‘The haggis!’

Now for the best part the traditional Burn’s supper which often consists of cock a leekie soup as a starter and haggis neaps and tatties for the main course. Or for those out with Scotland this translates as haggis mashes potatoes and turnips. Sweets often include Clootie Dumpling or a Scottish sherry trifle and the meal is finished with tea coffee and cheese boards. All of which is of course n true Scottish style accompanied by lots of wine, beer and whisky!

It is now time for the first entertainer who often recites Burn’s poems or songs, most popularly Tam o’ Shanter,
Holy Willie’s Prayer, or My Luve is Like a Red Red Rose.

It is then time for the host of the evening to deliver a speech on the life of Robert Burns including his life and work to which the speaker concludes with a toast: To the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns! This is then proceeded with the second entertainment where more of Burn’s work will be performed.

Then for the next toast (anything to raise a glass in Scotland!) Now it’s time for a Toast to the Lassies or to those who aren’t familiar with our colloquial Scottish tongue a toast to the ladies. This toast praises the role of women in the world today and the toast is concluded by the performer raising his glass to the room and announcing To the Lassies!

A final performance of Burn’s work is given before the ladies have their chance to respond to the gentleman’s toast to the lassies. The toast to the lassies and the ladies response to this are amongst the most humorous events that take place in the night.

The host of the evening now addresses the room and thanks everyone for their contribution to the evening and closes the proceedings by inviting guests to cross arms, join hands, stand up and sing or (perhaps slur) the classic Auld Lang Syne. So there you have it, a traditional Burn’s Supper! If you get the chance to attend it is a fantastic night or alternatively why not consider hosting your own! If you decide to go all out don’t forget to call Houston’s and get your kilt to wear!

Let us know if this has been helpful, and let us know where you will be celebrating Burn’s night!

From all at Houston’s, enjoy the Haggis!

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Hogmanay… Scottish New Year

Well the turkey has been eaten, the presents opened and Santa has been and gone! Christmas is over and done with well, for another year at least! But the party’s not over just yet, in Scotland we’re just getting started!

In Scotland we are well known for throwing a good party and New Year or as it’s known locally Hogmanay is the biggest party of the year in Scotland! Glasgow and Edinburgh are now well known party locations where thousands gather outside and countdown to the New Year! Whilst in New York everyone watches the ball drop, Scotland holds a countdown to ‘the bells’ which ring out at midnight at Edinburgh castle and symbolise the New Year beginning.

There are various quintessentially Scottish traditions associated with Hogmanay, for example; after the bells ring everyone will shake hands and offer a kiss on the cheek to wish one another a Happy New . We then cross our arms joining hands with one another in a circle and sing Rober Burns classic Auld Lang Syne.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot for auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”

The term auld lang syne is representative of notions of nostalgia and and days gone buy, in particular; those fondly remembered. It is when we sing these words that we reflect and raise a glass to the year past and the new one beginning.

Another popular tradition in Scotland is “First footing” this is the first foot in the house in the New Year. It was believed many years ago that it was good luck if the first footer were male, with dark hair and brought a gift such as coal, shortbread, salt, or whisky. It is still customary to give a gift when first footing, however; nowadays the gift is more commonly alcohol, shortbread, biscuits or sometimes even tea bags.

It is of course essential that you dress to impress to bring in the bells. The ladies will wear nice dresses and the gents wear suits and often kilts, trews and highland wear (enter Houston’s!).

These are some of our New Year’s traditions let us know yours!

Wherever you celebrate, and whatever you are doing Houston’s hope you are surrounded by loved ones and wish you all luck, love and good health in 2013!

For Auld Lang Syne!

Christmas Scotland traditions traditions

Scottish Christmas

It’s that time of year again! In less than a week Santa will have visited all the good little boys and girls, the presents will have been opened, the dinner cooking away, the Christmas music blasting from every home, and family fun and festivities will be in full swing!
Many standard traditions will be fulfilled such as your grandparents or parents giving their annual ‘you don’t know how lucky you are…all I got in my day speech’. My Gran claims she got an apple and orange for Christmas. It would explain why she’s still going strong at 90 years old, you know what they say; an apple a day…
However, it seems that the concept of a traditional Christmas is a very distant memory. There are more homes with central heating than fires and kiddies receiving technological gifts from Santa such as mobile phones and iPods instead of bears and dolls but some things never change. In Scotland, even in changing times we like so many others will surround ourselves with family and the ones we love. We swap gifts, enjoy drinks and get all dressed up (even if we are just going to a family members house). Many will decide to stay in their pyjamas all day as Christmas is their first day to relax after the crazy working period leading to the 25th but most will stay in their pyjamas instead of venturing outside into the often adverse weather conditions!
Then, the food! Maybe its purpose is to heat everyone up but soup tends to be a popular starter! Scotland’s traditional Christmas dinner like many other countries is turkey with all the trimmings. Other dishes include steak pie or beef. The table is always set with crackers in place, the crackers will be pulled, the terrible joke told and then your lovely outfit will be accompanied by a silly paper crown. One family member will of course decide this is the time to take a photograph, thanks for that!
As the day draws in and things calm down, the family will often collect in one room and listen to music or watch the Queen’s speech, or Christmas movies. You quickly realise the meaning of Christmas when you realise how much you have laughed and enjoyed the day and look around at the people who made that possible.
On that note we would like to wish a very Merry Christmas to you and yours from Houston Kiltmakers in Paisley. We hope you have a fantastic day!