Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hogmanay 2009/2010

Sun Goddess, Hogmanay Street Festival, Edinburgh 2005

Hogmanay - the Scottish celebration of New Year's - incorporates the older, Gaelic traditions of Samhain, as well as the Norse celebrations of Yule. Bonfires, purification (saining), and taking of omens for the new year (First Footing) are common customs.

In the darkest time of the year, we welcome the returning light with fires in the fields and the streets, praises to the returning sun, and welcoming the light into our homes and our hearts. Like at Brú na Bóinne in Ireland, the ancestors further up the coast in Scotland also aligned the megalithic cairns at Maeshowe with the midwinter sun, which illuminates the inner chambers at only this time of year. After the longest night, the light returns, and the ancestors are awakened as the sun enters the earth. Fire without, and fire within. Fàilte ort féin, a ghrian nan tràth, 'S tu siubhail ard nan speur...

Maeshowe, Orkney, Scotland. Photo from Orkneyjar is full of links to activities, including the burning of the Clavie and the ever-popular Fireballs Ceremony, which for those who can't make it will once again be streamed live over the net from the festivities in Stonehaven.

Fireballs Ceremony, Stonehaven High Street, 2003. Photo by Mr. Purple

Via Rudy at ACGA, and the crew at Clì Gàidhlig: The Hogmanay programme anns a' Ghàidhlig will be available worldwide for the first 24 hours of January 1st. The programme can be accessed on BBC Alba's website.

Bliadhna Mhath Ùr agus Slàinte Mhath a h-uile duine!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Nollaig anns a' Ghàidhlig

Nollaig bhon Ghàidhealtachd / Christmas from the Highlands

BBC Alba will be broadcasting an ecumenical service from Ness Bank Church, Inverness. Gaelic music by Kathleen MacInnes, Karen Matheson, Maggie MacDonald and James Graham, The Caledonian Canal Ceilidh Trail and pupils from the Inverness Gaelic Primary School (Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Inbhir Nis). The Inverness Gaelic Choir and the Ness Bank Congregation join together to sing favourite Gaelic carols. The carols are subtitled in Gaelic so viewers at home are able to join in.

BBC Alba, Christmas Eve, Thursday 24th December at 11pm and repeated on Christmas Day at 3.25pm (Inbhir Nis time / GMT). A special recording will also be played out on Radio nan Gàidheal on Christmas Day at 12.03pm.

Moran Taing to the lovely Kathleen MacInnes for passing this one along, as well as for her ongoing contributions to language and cultural preservation.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Grian-Stad Geamhraidh: A' Ghrian

Fàilte ort féin, a ghrian nan tràth,
'S tu siubhail ard nan speur;
Do cheumaibh treun air sgéith nan ard,
'S tu màthair àigh nan reul. 

Thu laighe sìos an cuan na dìth
Gun dìobhail is gun sgàth,
Thu 'g éirigh suas air stuagh na sìth,
Mar rìoghain òg fo bhlàth.

A' Ghrian - Traditional Gaelic song to the sun, 
from the original Gàidhlig, as recited by Iain MacNìll of Barra,
at the turn of the century before last.
#317 in the Ortha nan Gàidheal
And in English:

The Sun

I welcome you, sun of the seasons,
As you travel the skies aloft;
Your steps are strong on the wing of the heavens,
You are the glorious mother of the stars.

You descend into the deadly sea
Without distress and without fear;
You rise up on the wave of peace,
Like a youthful Queen in bloom.

translation ©2009 kpn

Friday, December 18, 2009

Light for the Ancestors: Grian at Brú na Bóinne, 2009

This year's winter sunstanding at Brú na Bóinne will not be broadcast on the web.

People are gathering at Newgrange, County Meath, Ireland, for Sunrise on the mornings around the Solstice (December 18th to December 23rd). Those chosen in the annual lottery will be able to go into the mound. Others will be gathering outside the Brú.

All praises to Grian, and to the ancestors. Light upon your path, as the shortest day begins with the light entering and illuminating the earth, heralding the return of the sun. Sláinte Mhaith.

Thanks to Michael Fox for passing along the info on this year's gathering.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Patrick Stewart speaks out about domestic violence

What he lived through.

I especially appreciate his words about how his abusive father seemed so kind and charming to outsiders.... But at home, behind closed doors with his family captives, it was another story. So typical. And what so many who've never lived with this sort of abuser don't seem to grasp ("But he's such a nice guy!"). I thank him for speaking out.