Food Culture and Tradition

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Special Occasions in Scotland


The Presbyterian Church of Scotland has more than a million followers. The Roman Catholic Church is second in importance with other denominations following in much lesser numbers. Christmas in Scotland is a one-day holiday highlighted with a festive family dinner at noon featuring roast chicken, mashed potatoes and turnips and climaxed with a flaming steamed fruit pudding.

But the merriest days on the Scottish calendar are Hogmanay and Robbie Burns’ Night. Hogmanay is the day before New Year’s and probably the only day in the year when everyone takes a holiday. This is the time for gifts and merrymaking, for nibbling nuts and eating juicy imported oranges. It is also the time for the finest bakery from the kitchen – black bun, fragrant cherry and currant cakes, crispy delicate shortbreads – all to be accompanied with port wine, ginger wine or Scotch whiskey. Later in the evening after midnight, all present enjoy a buffet meal of cold ham, roasted fowl and other meats, scones, bannocks and sweet butter to be followed yet again by the array of cakes and buns till all are happily sated.

Robbie Burns’ Night is the celebration marking the birth of the great Scottish poet. It is celebrated on January 25 and is only slightly less important than Hogmanay. For public banquets both occasions may be marked with the almost-mystical preparation of the haggis, served with great ceremony to the accompaniment of the pipes and many a nip of Scotch whiskey.

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