Many cultures and religions have traditions that are performed during wedding ceremonies and receptions, for example Jewish cultural tradition is to smash a glass under one’s foot once the vows have been said. This is to remind the couple that marriage has highs and lows, and to stick by each other through the peaks and troughs of life.
The Scottish tradition of hand-fasting dates back to medieval times, and is also thought to have came from Celtic and Pagan rituals. Gaelic scholar Martin Martin describes hand fasting as an ancient custom of the Isles where “a man would take a maid as his wife for the space of a year without marrying her, and if she pleased him all the while, he married her at the end of the year and legitimised her children, and if he didn’t love her, he returned her to her parents”. Not exactly the stuff of Hollywood rom-coms!
By the 18th century, the Church of Scotland no longer recognised unions formed by consent and consummation, even though civil authorities did. So the way around this was to perform the ceremonies in public. This was until 1939 when Scottish marriage laws were reformed and hand-fasting was no longer recognised.
Modern interpretations of hand-fasting are ones of love and the binding of two souls. It has seen a revival over the years due in part to more and more couples wanting to personalise aspects of their wedding and make it unique to them. It was also featured in the Stark wedding of Game of Thrones, further romantising this ancient practice.
Music is an important part of culture all over the world, and Scotland is no different!
Whether it’s traditional Scottish music or the modern music scene across various Scottish cities, there’s something for everyone.
Traditional Scottish Music
Let’s start in chronological order, with the traditional music of Scotland. As with many forms of music, it started as a means of passing the time whilst doing labour intensive tasks. In Scotland, before the industrial age, this would have been work such as farming or clothes making; a “waulking” song was a call and response song that would be sang whilst ‘walking’ the tweed. These were often sang in Gaelic.
The most well known staple of Scottish music is of course, the bagpipes. Believe it or not, the origin of bagpipes did not actually begin in Scotland. According to which historian you ask, you may get a variety of different answers – some believing they were first found in Ancient Egypt, whilst others say Ireland. Either way, Scotland has most definitely adopted the instrument as their own.
Bagpipe music was traditionally used throughout the military and in pipe bands, but has morphed to become part of folk dance music (often played at ceilidhs), and then in it’s most modern form – it is the instrument of bands like the “Red Hot Chilli Pipers.” Of course, many people also choose to have a piper play at their wedding.
Bagpipes are not the only form of traditional music in Scotland. Other instruments that were often played included the fiddle,accordion, pipes and chanters,guitar and clarsach (a Scottish harp).
Modern Scottish Music
As the times change, so does music. Scotland has been home to many successful and famous musicians on top of having a great local scene. Some of Scotland’s most famous artists include the likes of Lewis Capaldi, Annie Lennox, the Proclaimers, Calvin Harris, Paolo Nutini and many more – all of which we have included in our ultimate Scottish playlist. All of these artists branch across many genres and showcase Scotland’s diverse musical landscape. Whether you are native to Scotland or not, we guarantee you there will be something on this playlist that’ll make you say “ I didn’t know they were Scottish!” Who knows, maybe you’ll find your new favourite tune to add to your wedding playlist!
After the dark times of the 1746 Dress Act which saw the wearing of Tartan, Kilts and Highland wear outlawed in Scotland, the 1800’s and beyond saw a reversal of fortunes for the Kilt.
The 1746 Dress Act was repealed in 1782, with a representative of Parliament proclaiming:
“Listen Men. This is bringing before all the Sons of the Gael, the King and Parliament of Britain have forever abolished the act against the Highland Dress; which came down to the Clans from the beginning of the world to the year 1746. This must bring great joy to every Highland Heart. You are no longer bound down to the unmanly dress of the Lowlander. This is declaring to every Man, young and old, simple and gentle, that they may after this put on and wear the Truis, the Little Kilt, the Coat, and the Striped Hose, as also the Belted Plaid, without fear of the Law of the Realm or the spite of the enemies.”
After the restrictions on Highland wear were removed, Highland Societies were setup with the aim of promoting the wearing of the Kilt once again.
A great boost was given to the image of the Kilt and tartan by the visit of King George IV to Scotland in 1822, where he arrived kitted out in a full Highland Outfit (See pictures).
Not only was George’s trip to Scotland the first time a reigning monarch had visited Scotland since 1650, but the tartan pageantry surrounding the visit meant that the popularity of the Kilt and it’s association with Scotland were raised to a new level. It was exactly the shot in the arm that Kilts and Tartan needed to get them back to being part of Scotland’s national identity.
King George VI was advised by Sir Walter Scott to purchase a Highland outfit for his visit. He duly obliged and purchased an outfit from George Hunter & Co., outfitters of Tokenhouse Yard, London and Princes Street, Edinburgh, for £1,354 18s (a sum equivalent to £110,000 today). His Kilt outfit was crafted with a red Royal Tartan, which is similar to what we call the ‘Royal Stewart Tartan’ today.
While some looked on the visit in a bad light, the overall reaction was positive. Kilts were once again an iconic symbol of Scotland and linked once again to the Scottish Identity.
The popularity of tartan with Royalty continued during the 19th century with the reign of
Queen Victoria. Victoria often dressed her children in Kilts and in 1853 her husband, Prince Albert, designed the (Royal) Balmoral Tartan. This tartan was worn by the Queen and other members of the Royal family with her permission. The only other person allowed to wear this tartan is the Queen’s personal Piper.
The grey of the Royal Tartan Balmoral have recently came back into fashion. The historical ties of grey tartans to the royal family and modern fashions make these tartans popular choices. Houston Kiltmakers exclusive Bute Heather Tartan range, designed by owner Ken MacDonald, uses a base of grey with a dash of different colours to create contemporary tartan designs which is are easy to blend with todays wedding colours schemes .
Kilts popularity has increased since the reign of Victoria, in the next part we will look at Kilts through the 20th century, wearers during the two World Wars and on to the present day.
Highland wear can be a tricky business, especially if you are wearing a kilt for the first time! It’s a whole new experience and we have comprised some top tips to make sure you get everything just right and are dressed to perfection! Houston Kiltmakers want to assist you any way we can, so have a look below at our quick fire guide to dressing like a true Scotsman!
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 the top of 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 as shown by the arrow positioned in the image (below), 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. 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.
Prince Charlie Jacket
10. If you are wearing a shoulder plaid, fasten under your left hand jacket lapel and fasten with plaid brooch onto jacket only.
11. Finally put on your tie, bow, ruche or standard tie.
Wing collar shirt and bow tie
12. For further information on tartans as well as advice on what to wear and how to wear it please view our helpful video clips at www.kiltmakers.com/tv/
13. To download our brochures and view our buy range please visit www.kiltmakers.comto view our hire range go to www.kiltsforhire.com for any further information or help feel free to contact us by phone +44 141 889 4879
Nowadays the internet allows us to buy almost anything from anywhere in the world. With that much choice it’s hard to know where to go or even, where to start! Many people now look to customer reviews to highlight which companies are the most reliable and sell the best quality products.
As a retailer customer satisfaction is paramount, nothing means more to us than seeing a happy customer! Sometimes words on a screen just aren’t enough to convince you of a company’s quality. At Houston’s we can assure you our products are authentic and made in Scotland. We use only the best quality and have the greatest wealth of knowledge to help guide you. We have helpful and friendly staff working in our family run business which has been flourishing now for over 100 years… but like I said, sometimes words on a screen aren’t enough. That is why we are including photos!
Our customers often send photos of themselves in their highland wear from Houston’s so we thought we would share these with you. If your considering buying or hiring highland wear from Houston’s we are certain you will have a positive experience with us! See the smile’s on our customers faces if you don’t believe us!
Above is Antonio Vezza in a Houston’s Own Modern Bute Heather Tartan. Antonio took part in the 2013 Hampden Kilt Walk! Hundreds of participants took part in the 26 mile trek from Hampden to Loch Lomond to raise money for a range of Scottish Children’s Charities! Antonio remembered only at the very last minute he had forgotten to hire a kilt for the event! Not to worry Houston’s were on hand to help with a last minute hire!
Isn’t this a great photo of our customer Steve Baird and his wife? They donned their highland wear for a cultural diversity day at the school they work at in Houston, Texas!
Our customer Albert Davy from Austria purchased kilt packs for himself and his sons from Houston’s and sent on photos taken on 25th December at a photographic studio in his village and on 31st December at the New Year’s Eve Ball in The Vienna Imperial Castle. Some guests there believed Albert to be the Scottish Ambassador as his outfit was worn to perfection! Albert said “We had so much fun an received a lot of honours when I said “I’m a semi-Scotsman” telling the story of my ancients in Dumbarton”.
So don’t take our word for it, take our customers, word for it! After ‘the customer is always right’, right?
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!
When couples decide to jet off to get married the usual destinations are the exotic locations of Italy, Spain, Mexico and America. With these destinations within such close reach many may wonder why Canadian couple Fraser and Laura flew thousands of miles to get hitched in Scotland. It may be unclear to many but as a true Scot born and bred, I can tell you that what Scotland lacks in sunshine it makes up for in beauty, history and a rich culture. Scotland is famous for its rich culture, historic landmarks, and picturesque lochs. It is recognized in world cinema within classics such as Whisky Galore! and Braveheart. Character Stephen in Braveheart looks round at the army of Scotsmen standing strong and proud in their kilts and tells William Wallace “The Almighty says this must be a fashionable fight. It’s drawn the finest people”. It is true, that as well as the beautiful sights in Scotland the traditional dress is just as striking and symbolic of our wonderful country.
Fraser and Laura of Toronto, Canada got engaged after two years together and decided to fly almost 3,300 miles to marry in the town where Fraser’s ancestors lived before venturing across the Atlantic. The couple were not entertained by the standard practice of getting married in the popular wedding destinations of the Caribbean or Mexico, and with both Laura and Fraser’s ancestry dating back centuries to Scotland it seemed like the perfect choice. More specifically, as Fraser’s relatives had been married in Paisley Abbey centuries before that is where the couple set their hearts on for their big day. The couple faced quite a challenge arranging a wedding through only email and phone calls, but it was a challenge accepted and completed without fail. The couple commented that all the businesses they used within Paisley were particularly helpful (Oh and yes the happy couple did hire their highland wear from Houston Kiltmakers!).
It just goes to show that sometimes the most unlikely of places make the most special memories.
Here at Houston Kiltmakers we not only stock every tartan but we know pretty much all there is to know about Scotland’s Clans. So we wanted to spread the love and share a spot of Scottish Clan history with you. You never know could make for pub quiz fodder or just to impress friends and family round the dinner table! So let’s start with Houston’s Clan of choice, The MacDonald Clan.
The MacDonald Clan
The MacDonald clan is often described as the most powerful of the clans. The progenitor of the clan, Donald of Islay, had distinguished ancestry: his grandfather was King Somerled and his grandmother was daughter of Olaf. The first MacDonald possession was Islay where the family became Lord of the Isles.
The MacDonalds were keen supporters of the Bruce, the only man likely to succeed in restoring Scotland as an independent Kingdom. The power of the Lordship reached it’s peak under John, Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles. Although all titles were stripped by Henry VII of England when John was defeated. Attempts were made to revive the lordship but by 1545 it became a forlorn hope! Which was the successful policy of the royals to keep the Clan Donald divided. MacDonald remains the most common Mac name in Scotland.
MacDonlad Clan Motto
By Sea And By Land
My Hope Is Constant In Thee
So a big hello to all fellow MacDonald’s out there and if you want to find out more about your Scottish ancestors simply type your surname into our Tartan Finder! Enjoy…..