Friday, January 17, 2014

About Scottish Christmas Decorations

So today I'm taking a break from the "What's Up Scots?" series to reflect on Scottish Christmas decorations.  I don't mean the decorations that graced the Dundee city centre and the West End for more than a month, though they were quite nice and made me feel festive every time I walked past the lit-up trees or banners.  

Tree in city centre, Dundee
Decorations in city centre, Dundee

 What I really want to talk about are two specific Scottish decorations, one of which was sent to us here in Dundee all the way from America (I know, we call it the United States, but everyone I talk to here says "America" although I have yet to test whether this usage refers to just the U.S. or all of North (and possibly South) America). That decoration is the Bagpiping Santa.  I like the Bagpiping Santa.  He was not made in Scotland, I am almost certain. And I really don't see all that many bagpipers, except in the touristy parts of Edinburgh, or on special occasions here in Dundee.  My boss' son is a piper, so we may even have a higher bagpiper-quotient that typical Scots. But there is a bagpipe song called "Bonnie Dundee." In fact, Americans may even recognize this song - it sounds, to me, like what the stereotypical "playing bagpipes" sounds like. This is a Youtube video of a piper playing Bonnie Dundee on the bagpipes. Based on his shirt, he Glaswegian instead of Dundonian, but we won't hold that against him.  Anyway, Bagpiping Santa is not only nice to look at, he reminds me of Scotland and its traditions, and I'm sure he will continue to do so after we return to America, and each year we'll take Bagpiping Santa out of the box and display him somewhere, and say to the girls, "Do you remember when we lived in Scotland?" Audrey might - Claire, who knows. But we'll have Bagpiping Santa to remind her.
Bagpiping Santa

The second decoration I want to talk about is the knitted Christmas pudding.  I had been looking around for a truly Scottish Christmas decoration, and I didn't find it. But, at Edinburgh Castle after Christmas, I did find a decoration that was at least made in England, and that was something I wouldn't be able to find in America - namely, a Christmas pudding.
Knitted Christmas Pudding
I still have not quite grasped the concept of a pudding. It kind of means "dessert" as in, "What are we having for pudding?" But it also refers to a specific kind of dessert that I would classify as a cupcake, or maybe something like a Chocolate Lava Cake, with the chocolate syrup inside the cake (at least this is what the Tesco microwavable pudding I got was like).  Confusingly, pudding can also be a meat dish, something you eat with breakfast (red or black pudding) or, according to "All Recipes UK," a boiled dessert that may also be called a "Clootie Dumpling."  Which you can also apparently make in the microwave.  "Microwave Scottish Traditional Food" is going to be a subsequent blog,around Burns Day, because I also have heard about....wait for it...microwavable Haggis. 

Anyway, the knitted Christmas pudding will bring to mind all of this whenever I hang it on the tree, as well as what the knitted pudding makes Paul think of, which is also prevalent in Dundee, left by dogs on the sidewalks (with no cherry on top.) I leave it to your imagination.  

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