Edinburgh Napier University

Month: July 2023

Lughnasa Celtic Harvest Festival

Lughnasa Celtic Harvest Festival

Lughnasa is one of four traditional Celtic harvest festivals.  It happens at the end of summer when the grains are ripening, but have not yet been harvested. Usually celebrated on the 1st of August, it marks the end of summer and the beginning of the second half of the year. It occurs halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox.

A History of Lughnasa

Lughnasa is an ancient Gaelic holiday, said to be in honour of the pagan god Lugh, and his mother Tailtiu. As well as the usual traditions of feasting and gathering, it is believed that this was when the Tailteann Games were held. Games included “the long jump, high jump, running, hurling, spear throwing, boxing, contests in swordfighting, archery, wrestling, swimming, and chariot and horse racing. They also included competitions in strategy, singing, dancing and story-telling, along with crafts competitions for goldsmiths, jewellers, weavers and armourers.”[Source]

Lughnasa is still celebrated today in Ireland as a holiday. It includes music, dancing, stories and crafts. Furthermore, One modern-day legacy of Lughnasa is “Reek Sunday”. This involves climbing up a mountain or hill. In Ireland, many people climb up Croagh Patrick in Co. Mayo., also known as “the Reek” hence the name “Reek Sunday.”

The Myth

The myth that Lughnasa is based on according to Máire MacNeill who wrote on it back in1962 is the following:

“[it involves] a struggle for the harvest between Lugh and Crom Dubh, another mythical god who stores the grain, which Lugh seizes for humanity. Often, this is portrayed as a struggle for ‘Eithne,’ a woman who symbolizes the grain. Also, Lugh combats and destroys another figure representing blight. ‘Óenach Tailten’ or ‘Aonach Tailteann’ was a ceremony held during Lughnasadh in commemoration of Tailtiu [Lugh’s mother].” Source  

The four feast days

As well as Lughnasa, there is Samhain, Imbolg and Beltane. These are all based on the harvest periods and seasons. Samhain is celebrated on the 31st of October and is linked to Halloween celebrations. People leave gifts for the dead to appease their spirits and festivities and bonfires are often lit. Imbolc or Imbolg is celebrated on the 1st of February and is a lesser know celebration. It marks the beginning of spring and rebirth of the land. The final festival, and a very big one for Edinburgh is Beltane. It happens on the first of May and involves a lot of dancing and bonfires. Why not visit Edinburgh this year and attend our Beltain event on the top of Carlton Hill.

Read more on Scottish history at librarysearch.napier.ac.uk

By Juliet Kinsey

Photo by Polina Rytova on Unsplash

Read more on Scottish history and Festivals with articles on:

The Edinburgh Festival

Love Parks Week

Love Parks Week

In Edinburgh our urban parks offer green space to residents who don’t have access to a garden. They offer opportunities to get out and about in the fresh air, take some exercise, walk your dog, take part in sports and let the children run about and let off steam!

What is Love Parks Week

Love Parks Week was set up to celebrate and support the efforts of volunteers and workers up and down the country to maintain and protect our green spaces and in 2023 it runs from 28th July to 6th August.

Councils will facilitate large maintenance projects such as grass-cutting. Some parks have friend associations which run volunteer events to do extra work to improve their park.  Friends of Braidburn Valley Park run two litter picks in spring and autumn to clear litter from the Braid Burn which runs through the park. This is the type of event that Love Parks Week wants to highlight.

Parks evolved from the deer parks used for hunting in medieval times. With the Industrial Revolution, areas were set aside in towns and cities to give workers some green space. To escape from their cramped living conditions in tenements and terraced houses which didn’t have gardens. With Covid-19 pandemic, urban dwellers used their parks to leave their homes for the one hour per day recommended by the government. They were invaluable to people with no garden of their own. As we return to normal, we can appreciate our parks at any time we choose, and they are being well used. The  Meadows hosts exercise classes, charity and festival events and even cricket! Below is information about some of Edinburgh’s interesting parks.

Edinburgh parks

Holyrood Park

With the cliffs of Salisbury Crags and three lochs, Holyrood Park is a large open space in central Edinburgh. It is more like the deer hunting parks of old. The peak called Arthur’s Seat is part of an extinct volcano. The lochs are home to swans and ducks, and other wildlife. This park is big enough to have roads running through it and in spring the High Road is closed for the annual toad migration. Rangers help the toads awakening from hibernation on Arthur’s Seat across the road to get to Dunsapie Loch.

Braidburn Valley Park

This park was a farm until 1933. It contains several cherry trees planted by Girl Guides in 1935. There is an open-air theatre with tiered seating on the grass slope opposite hosted many performances before World War 2, but these events have declined greatly. There is a permanent orienteering course in the park. Unusually for a park a small fruit orchard has been planted in memory of David Wright, a well-known local greengrocer. The burn running through the park is home to herons and dippers. Just inside the park at the top of the slope running beside Comiston Road there is an old tram shelter. Said to date from the time of the original Edinburgh trams which ran all the way here.

 Saughton Park

This park hosted the Scottish National Exhibition in 1908 showcasing industry, agriculture and engineering. View some film of the event. It opened as a public park in 1910. Containing a rose garden, winter garden, paddling pool and bandstand it contained all the classic elements of a mid-20th century park. Now reflecting more modern trends, the park houses a large skate park which is popular with children and teenagers.

Harrison Park

With the Union Canal running along the top edge of the park. You can catch rowing clubs practising and check out the colourful canal barges moored there.

Try checking out your local park to see if there are any activities you could take part in.  You could just go along to enjoy the open space, plants and wildlife!

By Vivienne Hamilton

Try more summer activities 

Photo source – Julia Solononia 

July is Plastic Free Month

July is Plastic Free Month

Plastics what’s the big deal?

50% of plastics in the world are made up of lightweight single-use products and packaging materials. The disposal process of these synthetic non-biodegradable plastics has become a problem for the environment, animals, and people.

In 2018 it was estimated between 4.8 million and 12.7 million metric tons of plastics were discarded into the ocean annually, by countries with ocean coastlines.

The Ocean

Once in the ocean, sunlight and seawater react with the plastics. This causes it to become brittle, breaking down and turning into microplastics. These harmful by-products are then ingested by various types of wildlife, such as zooplankton, invertebrates, fish, turtles, birds, and mammals. In addition, ocean currents above and below the sea spread the debris over a wider area, and carry the waste back to the shore, where it affects land wildlife.

Cleaning the oceans is a mammoth task and would cost billions, and as such is not a viable solution. The alternative option was to reduce the use of plastics, which would reduce the amount of waste needing disposal, and so the idea of Plastic Free Month was created.

Plastic Free Month

Join the movement and become part of the solution to help reduce plastic pollution. By replacing single use plastics, you use, one step at a time. Together we can have a massive impact on the overall output of single use non-recyclable plastics. The idea has already been embraced by a million plus participants in 190 countries since Plastic Free Month’s began in 2011. By 2021 those taking part had reduced waste by 2.1 million tonnes.

The Plastic Free Foundation

Setup by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz (the founder of the Plastic Free Foundation) and a small team in local government in Western Australia, it has grown to become one of the most influential environmental campaigns in the world. Six years after its initial set up in 2011, Plastic Free July, led to the formation of the Plastic Free Foundation Ltd, an independent, not-for-profit charity that would support participants and grow the campaign. Plastic Free July has become a key initiative that allows the organisation to work towards a world free of plastic waste.

Their core mission values are:

  • Honesty and integrity
  • Inclusivity of people, ideas, visions, and approaches.
  • A focus on providing solutions.
  • Authenticity and collaboration.
  • The belief that small changes add up to a big difference.

To find out more about Plastic Free Month and some great ideas on how you can play your part in helping and improving the environment, head over to Plastic Free July – Be Part of the Plastic Pollution Solution.

Working to make a difference.

Click on the following link to see how a lab technician and technical assistant at Edinburgh Napier University pioneered a new recycling initiative that has to date (December 2022) re-routed 3,000kg of plastic from general waste to dry mixed recycling.  Lab Plastic Recycling Project (napier.ac.uk)

Or read the blog at: Solving single-use plastic waste with a dynamic duo – The School of Applied Sciences (napier.ac.uk)

By Mo Almas

Read more about the Environment and the world in our article on re-introducing animals to Scotland.

Photo by tanvi sharma on Unsplash

International Moon Day

International Moon Day

It was way back in the 5th century B.C. that Greek astronomer Anaxagoras correctly surmised that the moon was not a god, but a big rock with mountains on its surface. The sun, too, was a burning rock that “puts brightness into the moon”. These beliefs got him arrested and exiled, but he stuck by them. No doubt Anaxagoras would have been delighted when, 23 centuries later, three US astronauts landed on the big rock.

Apollo 11

It was on 20th July 1969 that Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin touched down on the moon. It was, you’ll recall, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

The Apollo 11 lunar mission, one of the most daring engineering feats ever pulled off, lasted exactly eight days,18 minutes and 35 seconds. That was 54 years ago, but it was only last year that the first International Moon Day was recognised.

You may wonder why the moon needs its own special day. Well, sadly our only natural satellite is not immune from destructive human activity.  According to the United Nations, we need to ensure that moon exploration remains sustainable and peaceful. Indeed, the UN is so concerned about lunar safety that as early as 1967 the General Assembly adopted the “Magna Carta of Space”. The charter sets out principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space.

Article three states that “the moon shall be used by all States Parties exclusively for peaceful purposes” and goes on to prohibit the use of the moon for threatening behaviour and mass destruction.

For more information, see here:


About us (unoosa.org)

As long as we don’t destroy it – or our own Earth – we’ll continue to be fascinated by the moon, and all other celestial bodies. Countless films and dramas have been set on the moon or other non-Earth locations. Fancy rewatching Apollo 13, The Dish or Neil Armstrong – First Man on the Moon?  Just log into BoB through LibrarySearch:

Search · BoB (learningonscreen.ac.uk)

By Lesley McRobb

Read about some Alien fun here 

Photo source Thula Na

Mandela Day

Mandela Day

July 18th 1918: Madiba the beginning

“After climbing a great hill, one only finds that  there are many more hills to climb.”― Nelson Mandela

It was in the midst of South Africa’s apartheid regime that Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, was born to the Chief of the Madiba Clan, Henry Mandela. After the passing of his father, Nelson Mandela, also known as Madiba, was raised by the regent of Tembu. In the following years, Mandela decided to give up his right to the chieftainship of the Madiba tribe. He wanted to be a lawyer.

1944: ANC

May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”

― Nelson Mandela

In 1944, Mandela joined the ANC (African National Congress Party). A Black-liberation group opposed to the policies that governed relations between South Africa’s white minority and non-white majority. The ANC sanctioned racial segregation and political and economic bias against non-whites for the larger part of the latter half of the 20th century. From being a member and then a Leader of the ANC’s Youth League, Mandela went on to hold various ANC leadership positions. He would directly challenge and opposed the National ruling party’s stance on apartheid.

1952 – 1960: Black Law Practise, Freedom Charter & Treason

“I am the captain of my soul.”

― Nelson Mandela

In 1952 Mandela and Oliver Tambo, also an ANC leader, joined forces to create South Africa’s first Black law practice in Johannesburg. Mandela also played a key role in the implementation of a non-violent campaign against South Africa’s pass laws, which required non-whites to carry ID authorising them to be in white areas.  Mandela’s opposition to the ANC led to him experiencing travel and speech restrictions enforced by the establishment. This was only a sign of things to come. In 1955, Mandela became part of the team responsible for drafting the Freedom Charter. This focused on the implantation of a non-racial social democracy. In the following year he was arrested on treason charges, only to be acquitted in 1961. The continued suppression and intimidation of non-whites by apartheid, the banning of the ANC and the 1960 Sharpeville massacre of unarmed Black South Africans by the police. Pushed Mandela to begin preaching acts of sabotage against the African regime, and subsequently, he and his followers created an underground movement. The Spear of the Nation (Umkhonto we Sizwe) is a military wing of the banned ANC.

August 5th 1962: Defiance

When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” ― Nelson Mandela

In 1962, not too long after returning from guerrilla warfare and sabotage training in Algeria, Mandela was captured at a roadblock in Natal. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison. In October, of the following year the already imprisoned Mandela was tried for sabotage, treason, and violent conspiracy.  Mandela admitted several charges brought against at the Rivonia Trial. His speech from the docks was seen as a defence of liberty and defiance against tyranny. On June 12, 1964, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. During this time Mandela maintained widespread support from South Africa’s Black population. His incarceration became a cause of célèbre among international communities which condemned apartheid.

February 11th 1990:  Freedom and hope

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that  would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”― Nelson Mandela

After 27 years in prison, Mandela was finally released. And in July 1991, after serving as the deputy leader of the ANC, he became its president. He went on to lead negotiations with the South African government to end apartheid. To usher in a peaceful transition to non-racial democracy in South Africa.

April 1994: A new beginning

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”― Nelson Mandela

.In April 1994 Mandela led the ANC to victory in South Africa’s first elections. He was sworn in as the President of the country’s first multi-ethnic government. In the following year, he went on to create the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to investigate human rights violations during apartheid. As well as introduce education, economic and housing development schemes to improve the living standards of the country’s Black population. Whilst in 1996 he saw the formation of a new democratic constitution.

December 1997 – 1999: One journey ends another begins

Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”
Nelson Mandela

December 1997 saw Mandela resign from his post with the ANC.  He did not seek a second term as South Africa’s leader, which ended in 1999. Instead, he retired from politics. Nevertheless, Mandela continued his advocation internationally for peace, reconciliation and social justice.

July 18th 2009: Honouring a Legacy

I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

 ― Nelson Mandela

To honour his outstanding achievements against adversity, his resilience and his legacy, July 18th 2009, the day of his birth, became Mandela Day.  The United Nations declared this day as Nelson Mandela International Day.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. It always seems impossible until it’s done.”― Nelson Mandela

Photo source – John Paul Henry

by Mo Almas

More historically significant blog posts here 

Out and about in Scotland

Out and about in Scotland

Are you staying in Scotland for the summer? Are you thinking about getting out and about in the spectacular countryside? You can have a great time and make some fantastic memories walking, camping, doing water sports, mountain biking or just touring around, and so it’s worthwhile being well prepared for your trip or outing.

If you are heading off to somewhere remote remember that the weather in Scotland can be a bit unpredictable so it’s best to have waterproofs and warm clothes in case. Of course it could also be very warm with little shade so sunscreen and a hat could be useful too. Strong footwear is essential for walking on paths and across grasslands.

Right to Roam in Scotland

You should be clear on access too. The so-called ‘right to roam’ is part of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act introduced in 2003 to strike a balance between a person’s freedom to roam and respect for private property. It allows members of the public to access most land and inland water in Scotland for recreational or other purposes. This is provided that the right to roam is exercised reasonably and responsibly. Recreational covers a wide range of activities, including camping and picnicking. However, there are limitations to the rule. For example, the right to roam does not apply to land on which there are buildings, or shelters including tents and caravans.

It also does not apply to gardens. Similarly, land where crops are growing is off limits, as are schools and school grounds and land that has been developed into sports grounds. If you are walking in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), it is important to be respectful of the plants and wildlife as failure to do so can result in a fine.

Learning to use a map and compass is a good idea. With patchy wifi in countryside areas it’s not always possible to use GPS. It’s essential to take enough food and water along as shops can be few and far between. Always tell someone where you are going and when you are due to return.

Swimming in Scotland

If you are thinking of wild swimming never go alone in case you get into difficulty. Bear in mind that water temperatures can be much colder than the air temperature and the cold can cause shock. Wet suits offer some protection. If you are taking part in any water sports, it’s best to check that they are allowed on the stretch of water you are heading to. There may be restrictions on bodies of water within national parks, nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). A fishing permit may be required if you were thinking of trying angling. At the coast be mindful of tides so as not to get stranded, and if swimming remember riptides can carry people out to sea.

Be careful if lighting a fire. In dry spells a small fire can turn into a wildfire which can spread across large areas and cause devastation to forests and wildlife. Make sure you extinguish any fires you light and never leave one unattended.

Don’t leave litter-it’s unsightly and can be dangerous to wildlife. Always use any bins provided or take your litter home if there aren’t any.

Helpful guides

If you are driving, it’s also worth bearing in mind that petrol is considerably dearer in remote areas so it’s worth filling up before you leave the central belt.

If the worst should happen and you get into difficulty remember there are bodies who can help. For the hills and mountains there are mountain rescue teams equipped with search dogs, drones and years of experience in finding people and administering first aid if necessary.

The coastguard will assist with rescues around the shores of the country.

You can also help yourself by being prepared for an emergency-some extra food, a foil blanket to protect against the cold, a whistle to attract attention and brightly coloured clothing which makes you more visible to rescuers are small additions which can make a big difference. Before you set off install the what3words app on your phone. This can help rescuers locate your position more easily.

Whatever you are planning to do and wherever you are going this summer stay safe and hopefully the weather will be kind!

Useful websites:

Long distance walks:  https://www.scotlandsgreattrails.com/

Munro bagging:  https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/munros/

Water safety https://watersafetyscotland.org.uk/advice-hub/water-safety-code/



HM Coastguard: https://hmcoastguard.uk/in-an-emergency

Mountain Rescue: https://www.scottishmountainrescue.org/

SSSI guidance: https://www.nature.scot/professional-advice/protected-areas-and-species/protected-areas/national-designations/sites-special-scientific-interest-sssis

You can use Box of Broadcasts to view episodes of the Adventure Show and Library Search to find books and articles on wildlife, plants, first aid and land law.

You can read more about Scotland

By Vivienne Hamilton

Photo source Claudia De Wet

Music Festivals

Music Festivals

Summer has a vast number of connotations and associations.  One that has always stuck with me is music festivals. Glastonbury, Download or Reading and Leeds to name a few. The weather is usually nicer, concerts can be held outside so make a weekend out of it. Let’s get into the spirit

History of Music Festivals in the UK

The Isle of Wight Festival was the first modern music festival in the UK, held around the same time as the original Woodstock festival in 1969. The unexpected high attendance (thought to be 700 000) led to a parliamentary act that meant any gathering of more than 5000 people had to apply for a special licence. The festival was revived in 2002 and still going.  (Wikipedia)

Glastonbury followed shortly, inspired by the Isle of Wight Festival and Glastonbury has grown into perhaps the largest and most famous music festival in the country. (Timeout)

 Festivals Today

A list of Summertime music festivals here

And check out the guardian 

In the Library We have an intensive book stock on music which you can find on LibrarySearch, you can even an intensive reading list on music festivals.

And sometimes festivals are timeless, and you can watch past ones on BOB available through Library Search

On a more academic note if you are music student, don’t forget about our libguides, you can find more about databases, journals, music in the library and more key resources to help with your studies.

Read more about summer posts or get a little more musically

Photo source James Genchi 

The Edinburgh Festival

The Edinburgh Festival

Everything you should know about The Edinburgh Festival

The Edinburgh Festival is one of the most famous and internationally loved festivals in the world. It boasts multiple festivals within the festival, as well as art shows and street performances around every corner.

Here’s a list of the main festivals:

There is something for everyone no matter your interest. Us Librarians of course get very excited by the Book festival and a chance to hear our favourite authors read from their work is a rare privilege. All the big names appear in our tiny city and the excitement and energy on the streets is invigorating.


Incredibly The first ‘International Festival of Music and Drama’ took place between 22 August and 11 September 1947 (Wikipedia). The ethos behind the creation of the festival was  “provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit” (Source) after the horrors of the Second World War.

Beginning with the high arts of Ballet, Opera, Classical music and the Visual Arts. It has grown to encompass so much more. The Edinburgh Fringe is a place to hear some of the greatest up-and-coming comedians, as well as standard favourites from around the Globe. The Jazz and Blues festival boasts some of the best musicians in the world. Not to mention the street performances that are free for everyone. Although you will need plenty of time to get between shows as it’s hard to resist stopping constantly to see them all.

Library Resources for Edinburgh Napier members

Whether it’s Jazz musicians or film criticism you are interested in, check out librarysearch.napier.ac.uk for all our resources

Read more about different festivals here on our blog. Check out: The Cherry Festival 

By Juliet Kinsey

World Chocolate Day

World Chocolate Day: Friday 7th of July 2023

Take a moment to indulge in World Chocolate Day!  

Did you know that approximately 1 billion people from around the world eat chocolates every day?  

This just shows that many of us cannot resist the temptation of chocolaty treats. Indeed chocolate is also the food of love! You might think chocolate is unhealthy, however dark chocolate has many health benefits. It creates a calm and happy mood, improves memory and even helps to keep that heart healthy… but remember everything in moderation! 

What is the story of chocolate? 

Chocolate begins from the pods of the cacao tree and is native to Central and South America. Pods g from the trunk and in the larger branches, which contain the cacao beans.  

Did you know cacao is the botanical name for the unfermented beans and cocoa is the manufactured product?  You can find more about the cocoa bean via our Library Search here: 

History of Chocolate

Chocolate can be traced back to the Mayans. It was consumed in liquid form for celebrations and complimented most meals. It was often combined with chillies, water and honey.  Furthermore, The Aztecs also believed that chocolate was sacred and used the cacao beans as currency- in fact, it was more valuable than gold!  

During the industrial revolution, chocolate boomed. Half of the cacao butter was removed for the chocolate liquor and resulting in a creamier and improved quality. It was the modern era for cost-effective, machine-based chocolate. 

John Cadbury opened the first shop in Birmingham in 1824 and has manufactured chocolate since. Due to the machinery, different types of chocolate have emerged and today it is a highly refined, edible confectionary.   

Fair-trade chocolate  

Fairtrade Chocolate supports changing the way cocoa is supplied, ethical working conditions and sustainable incomes for farmers and their families. You can recognise the fairtrade on products like this one below: 

Find more about Fair Trade here: https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/Buying-Fairtrade/Chocolate/ 

Read more on Chocolate using LibrarySearch.napier.ac.uk

Let us know which is your favourite chocolate bar in the comments below?  

Find more information  



Image by: shri-wntFdvFPu5I-unsplash

Happy Fourth of July Independence Day🎉

Happy Fourth of July Independence Day🎉

Also referred to as Independence Day, the Fourth of July marks the anniversary of the then 13 colonies declaring independence from the British crown. It has a rich history of celebrations throughout the United States.

On July 2nd 1776, the then continental congress voted for independence. Consequently, two days later the 13 colonies adopted the declaration of independence. Thomas Jefferson famously drafted the document. The Fourth of July has been celebrated ever since. Fun fact, as it was the 2nd of July that congress passed the decision on Independence, future President John Adams refused to celebrate American independence on the fourth of July and marked celebrations on the second. He would die fifty years later on July 4th 1826 (History.com).

Celebrations range from family barbecues to street parades. In addition, firework displays are notorious and have been part of celebrations since 1777, with the first reported in Philadelphia. Early celebrations included having mock funerals for King George III, and the firing of muskets and cannons.  These were followed up by a public reading of the declaration of independence (History.com). In 1870, it was recognised by Congress as a federal holiday, although it was not until 1941, that it would be a paid holiday for federal employees. It was in the late 19th century with the rise of leisure time that family get-togethers and barbecues became more common celebrations (History.com)

Whatever you are doing this year have a happy fourth of July Independence Day!

Read about other celebrations on our blog such as St.Patricks Day and Chinese New Year

Want to learn more about American History? Try Librarysearch.napier.ac.uk for all sorts of information. Need to know how to use it? Read our Guide here.

By Maya Green

Photo by Paul Weaver on Unsplash




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