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Scotland Travel Guide
"Honed by long competition with its English neighbours, buoyant Scotland has survived encroachment, brass-monkey weather and invasion by stand-up comedians. Its people are feisty, opinionated and fiercely loyal. The countryside is a wild, beautiful tumble of raw mountain peaks and deep glassy lakes.

There's a plethora of tartan-checked beaten tracks across this land, but even in well-thumbed tourist hubs like Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Isle of Skye it's easy to veer off into one-of-a-kind adventures, usually involving extroverted locals. The brutal climate adds an edge to the whole experience."
Festivals Place to Visit Fast Facts
Aberdeen International Youth Festival
The Festival is a unique platform for young talent and a celebration of youthful creativity and innovation. The Festival attracts an astonishing array of talent from across the world and offers you an un miss able chance to experience a range of high quality and diverse performances.

Halloween - 31 October
The evening of All Hallows (Saints) Day and the last day of the year in the old Celtic calendar. It was celebrated by the Druids as "Samhain" from "Sain" meaning summer and "fuin" meaning "ending". It was associated with witches and celebrated with bonfires and "guising" as children dressed up and went round neighbouring houses with "tattie bogles" or "neep lanterns" (candles inside turnips). The pumpkin serves the same purpose in the USA. There is a (long) poem by Robert Burns on Hallowe'en which gives a good description of the traditions which were followed in his day.

All Souls Day - 2nd November
Prayers were said for the souls of the dead and alms given to the poor.

Guy Fawkes - 5 November
Recalling the attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament with 20 barrels of gunpowder in 1605. Bonfires, fireworks and "penny for the guy" (an effigy of Guy Fawkes, providing an excuse for children to plead for money from passers-by). This is not a specifically Scottish festivity - it is UK wide but it took place shortly after the Union of the Crowns when King James VI of Scotland became king of England and Wales also.

Martinmas - 11 November
The last Scottish legal "Quarter Day" when rents and contracts fell due. Since fodder was becoming scarce by this time of the tear, cattle were often killed at this time. As a by-product of this the offal was mixed with oatmeal to make haggis and the blood used to make black puddings.

St Andrew's Day - 30 November
Although St Andrew has been the patron saint of Scotland since a Pictish victory in a battle in 747AD, 30 November is not a public holiday in Scotland. Indeed, St Andrew's night is celebrated more by expatriate Scots around the world.

Sowans Nicht - Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve in some parts of Scotland is called "Sowans Nicht" from "sowans" - a dish made from oat husks and fine meal steeped in water. And branches of a rowan tree were burnt on Christmas Eve to signify that any bad feeling between friends or relatives had been put aside for Yuletide.

Christmas - 25th December

Like many ancient races, particularly those located in the northern latitudes, where winter days were short and the nights long, the pagan Celts had celebrations around the time of the winter solstice, in part to brighten the darkest days, in part to propitiate the gods to allow the sun to return. In Norse mythology, Odin the gift-bringer, swept across the night sky in a chariot drawn by horses. The Christian Church took over the festival but some of the traditions harked back to the pagan roots. The Yule log was burned in the fireplace, there was kissing under the mistletoe (related to a Druidic fertility rite) and the house was decorated with holly (evergreen trees were regarded with reverence).