Edinburgh Napier University

Month: December 2023

Scottish New Year Traditions

Scottish New Year Traditions

An old Scottish New Year tradition was First Footing – all you had to do was grab a lump of coal and a bottle of whisky and visit your neighbour to “see in” the New Year. This tradition is thought to date back to the Viking times and is quite quaint and sedate, but in modern times some of our New Year traditions have become a little bit crazy…..

Stonehaven Fireballs

This spectacular display takes place in the town of Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. Roughly 40 people take part and at the stroke of midnight, the fireballs are lit and are whirled around by those brave enough to take part in the procession along the High Street. The balls are made from wood and fabric soaked in paraffin and then enclosed in wire mesh. The procession takes around half an hour and the balls are hurled into the sea at the end. The origins of the tradition are unclear, but it has now become a popular tourist attraction. If you can’t attend the procession, there has been a webcam allowing remote viewing in the past which will hopefully be running again this year and the link is here. You can check out previous processions online by clicking here.

The Ba’, Kirkwall, Orkney

The game begins at 1pm on New Year’s Day when the Ba’ is thrown up from the Mercat Cross outside St. Magnus Cathedral. Two teams, Uppies and Doonies try to get the Ba’- a leather ball filled with cork handmade by local craftsmen- to their respective home goals. For Uppies it’s at the far end of the main street opposite the catholic church, and for Doonies it’s Kirkwall Harbour. If the Ba’ “gaas doon” then the players are expected to jump into the harbour. It’s a contest of scrums, pushing, shoving, fast sprints and sneaky smuggles. Where your allegiance lies used to depend on where you were born with Uppies being born south of the cathedral and Doonies born north of it. Now with many women being sent to Aberdeen to give birth, most men play on the side their father or grandfather played on. The game mostly takes place on the town’s main streets with businesses and homes boarding up their properties to prevent damage.

There are no rules, and a game can last for many hours with little movement of the scrum. Only when a team member manages to get the Ba’ to the outer players can a fast break or smuggle (up a player’s jumper) take place. It is then chaotic with those in possession of the Ba’ trying to get as close as possible to their goal whilst throwing the opposition off the trail by using the winding lanes in Kirkwall’s streets.

Once the winning team has reached their goal, the Ba’ is presented to a member of the team-usually someone who has participated for many years. It’s a lot easier to watch than take part in-click here to watch the Ba’ from a previous year.

The Loony Dook, South Queensferry

Held on New Year’s Day, The Loony Dook is a charity event requiring the participants to dip into the freezing cold waters of the Firth of Forth. The name comes from two Scots words, loony (a crazy person) and dook (to bathe or take a dip).

The first Loony Dook took place in 1986 when some friends suggested it would be a good hangover cure. The following year it became a charity event with proceeds going to local charities such as RNLI Queensferry. Over the years the event grew to include a fancy dress parade and became so large it had to become an organized event. Each year thousands of onlookers come to watch participants who are greeted by pipers and offered hot porridge before taking the plunge.

The event has caught on in other Scottish seaside towns along the Firth such as North Berwick, Kirkcaldy and St. Andrews so if you can’t make it to South Queensferry, then you may be able to catch the action at a different venue. If you prefer to stay warm and dry at New Year then click here to view a previous Loony Dook from the comfort of your home!

By Vivienne Hamilton

Find amazing resources on Scotland in LibrarySearch.napier.ac.uk

Read more about Scottish Traditions with this post on Burns Night.

Festive image saying Merry Christmas and and a wonderful Festive Season from the edinburgh napier Library Blog

Spanish Christmas Traditions

A Spanish-style Traditional Christmas 

Christmas in Spain is not so very different from Christmas elsewhere, but there are one or two traditions that may sound slightly exotic to Scottish ears, and I’ll set them out here.

First of all, our festive period is longer, running from the 22nd of December until the 7th of January. We celebrate the end of Christmas with presents brought from faraway lands by the Three Wise Men (traditionally marked by the Epiphany). This, of course, makes the youngest members of the family very merry, but it pleases the grownups too. Traditionally Santa Claus has never been recognised in Spain, but nowadays that is changing, and like the reyes mago” (3 wise men), he now sometimes brings presents too.

The Spanish Lottery

A more recent, and much more secular tradition, is El Gordo, the Spanish Christmas Lottery. This, too, is celebrated on the 22nd of December. It’s the most popular draw of the year in Spain and is considered the biggest worldwide since it was first celebrated in 1812. Winning El Gordo’s jackpot is one of the best Spanish Christmas presents you could hope for.

As in many other parts of the world, Christmas trees, fancy city lights, and splashes of red, green, and white decorations make their appearance during the festive period. However, something quite particular we have is the Portal de Belén: tiny models of Bethlehem representing the Nativity, with many accompanying structures such as the desert, town, angels, shepherds and farm animals.

Continue reading

Jane Austen Day

Jane Austen Day

Picture, if you will, a walnut tripod table by a window in a country house. It’s tiny, with twelve sides and a moulded edge. Imagine a small figure writing at this table in secret, on small scraps of paper, alive to the sounds of footsteps carrying visitors into the room. Notice as this person swiftly hides those scraps away from prying eyes. The image you now have in your mind is that of Jane Austen, perhaps the best-loved author in the English-speaking world. Imagine a world without those scraps and their transformation into the six sparkling novels that she completed. How impoverished that world would be.

Jane Austen: A life

Jane wrote in secret because she was a young, unmarried woman in the late 18th century, and it was considered unseemly for ladies to indulge in anything as vulgar as writing fiction.

Luckily for us, she privately pursued her literary passions throughout her tragically short life, and the novels she bequeathed us – all published within a six-year time frame – have been in print ever since. The many television and cinematic adaptations of her work attest to the fact that literary audiences today are as hungry for her work as they were 200 years ago.

Jane Austen lived a quiet, unspectacular and financially constrained life in southern England. She rarely travelled and never married, and yet her keen and witty observations of societal norms and her brilliant insights into human relationships sing out from every page of her works. Her novels were instantly popular, but she was only identified as their author a few months after she died.

Today we celebrate Jane’s birthday, and she lives on through her characters who are as fresh and modern today as they were when she wrote them into existence: Elizabeth Bennett, the Dashwoods, Fanny Price, Emma Woodhouse, Catherine Morland, and Anne Elliot.  Oh, and the dashing Mr Darcy (be still, my beating heart!)

Resources for Jane Austen Day

You’ll find all her novels on LibrarySearch.  Why not binge-read them over the holidays.

In order of publication:

Sense and Sensibility (1811)

Pride and Prejudice (1813)

Mansfield Park (1814)

Emma (1815)

Persuasion (1817)

Northanger Abbey (1817)

For more information:

The Jane Austen Society UK

Or why not check out the film adaptations on Box of Broadcasts.

By Lesley McRobb

Read more on the blog by Lesley. Such as National Poetry Day

Into the Groove Christmas Lecture

Into the Groove Christmas Lecture

If you enjoyed our post for Record Store Day in April, you may be interested in a free event taking place on 14th December. Set in the Lindsay Stewart lecture theatre at Craiglockhart campus from 13.30 to 15.00.

Into the Groove will see music industry names help ENU tell the story of vinyl records and explore the resurgence of vinyl in the digital age. As Lecturer Derek Livesey noted ‘Into The Groove aims to help people understand a bit more about this resurgence. And it’s not just the music: it’s the artwork, the smells, the liner notes, the track ordering, the ritual and the theatre of vinyl – and of course the crackles and scratches.”

Contributors to the event include broadcasters, a dj, academics and music producers. They will use a range of media such as interviews, films and demonstrations to deliver the event. And it  will be live-streamed to the US and Europe. And will be found on University’s Youtube channel.

So why not come along to this fun and informative Christmas Lecture. If you’d like any more information or would like to book tickets check out the webpage.

Read about our celebration of World Record Day 

Luciadagen (Santa Lucia Day)

Luciadagen (Santa Lucia Day)


On 13th December Scandinavians commemorate Luciadagen the so-called “Festival of Lights” celebrating Santa Lucia. This stems from the fourth-century martyrdom of the Italian Saint Lucia and is an important winter celebration in Scandinavian countries. In earlier centuries the Norse celebrated the winter solstice, but after converting to Christianity sometime around 1000 AD, they incorporated the legend of Santa Lucia into their celebrations. Having long, dark winters with areas above the Arctic Circle not seeing the sun for up to 2 months, may have influenced them to commemorate a saint associated with light. The modern festival combines elements of both pagan and Christian traditions.

It is believed that Lucia took food and water to Christians hiding in the catacombs of Rome to avoid persecution from the Romans who worshipped pagan gods. Being underground the catacombs were dark. Unable to carry the supplies and a lantern, legend has it that Lucia designed a version of a headlamp, wearing a wreath of candles on her head to light her way. She was killed by in 304 AD after refusing to give up her vow of chastity and marry a pagan.

Celebrations Today

Nowadays on December 13th towns in Scandinavia mark the day with a procession of children, dressed in white tunics with lit candle wreaths on their heads to symbolise Lucia’s headlamp. Younger children tend to wear imitation candles or tinsel. As the procession progresses, the song Santa Lucia is sung along with traditional songs. The procession will be led by a girl who has been chosen to be the town’s Santa Lucia. The festival is meant to bring hope and light at the darkest time of the year. At home, families observe the festival by having one of their daughters (usually the eldest) dress in white and serve lussekattar (saffron bread) and coffee to symbolize Lucia bringing food and water to those in hiding.

With strong Nordic connections, it’s not surprising that Orkney has adopted the tradition, incorporating a Santa Lucia or St. Lucy (the English version) procession into the Kirkwall  Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

We wish all our Scandinavian staff and students a happy Luciadagen and you can use Library Search to learn more about traditions, festivals and saints.

Let’s not forget our Italian staff and students because although the modern-day celebration of Santa Lucia is generally associated with Scandinavian countries. It is also observed in some parts of Italy, Lucia’s homeland. The feast is a Catholic celebrated holiday with roots that can be traced back to Sicily. St. Lucia is the patron saint of the Sicilian city of Syracuse.

Learn more about this using librarysearch.napier.ac.uk

Read more about Christmas traditions on out blog with the article: Spanish New Year

By Vivienne Hamilton

Photo by Photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash

Disability History Month 2023

Disability History Month 2023

Disability History Month 2023 UK runs from 16th November to 16th December. We are going to reflect on how the library and the university can support it. If you want to find out more about Disability History Month, you can find more on their website. 

Library Resources:

At the library, we aim to:

  • Provide equal opportunity and access to services and collections.
  • Take a positive and flexible approach to promoting the full integration of everyone into all aspects of our activities.
  • Work with Student Wellbeing and Inclusion and other departments as required to identify the best way to meet students’ specific needs.
  • Be open and receptive to feedback and welcome comments on our service.

You can find how the library can support you on our webpages or you can check out the wellbeing collection. We have created a tab to raise Disability History Month. You’ll find resources in this list that reflect on disability history, films and documentaries about disability, and the lived experience of people with disabilities.

You’ll also find relevant items in this LibGuide under Neurodiversity and Mental Wellbeing.

If you need more support or have feedback on our services, please let us know at library@napier.ac.uk

University Support

Additionally, the University offers a range of support. Edinburgh Napier University prides itself on its ethos of offering equal access to University life. Equal access is a vital part of every student experience, and our team of Disability Inclusion staff are here to make sure it happens for you. You can read more on the university portal to see how the university can support, from assistive technology to improved experience.

For staff at Napier, you can read more about on the staff intranet.

You can read our previous post on International Day of Persons with Disability 

Photo source UK Disability History Month

The 12 Days of Festive Library Resources: Part One

The 12 Days of Festive Library Resources

Part one

To celebrate the end of the year and the beginning of the Festive holiday break we thought we’d share some of our best resources.

Below is a list of some of our best:

Day One: Librarysearch

We have to start with our trusty Library Catalogue, LibrarySearch. Found at Librarysearch.napier.ac.uk.

This is a great place to start. Remember to sign in first before you start your search.

You will find information on everything the library has available and information on how to access it. Read our guide on how to get started with LibrarySearch.

Day Two: Box of Broadcasts

On the second day of Christmas, my library gave me

BoB (Box of Broadcasts) is an innovative shared online off-air TV and radio recording service for UK higher and further education institutions. It contains over a million items including an archive of all BBC TV and radio content dating from 2007.
BoB enables all staff and students in subscribing institutions to choose and record any scheduled broadcast programme from 60+ TV and radio channels. You can also edit programs into clips, create playlists, embed clips into Moodle, share items via social media and generate reference citations.

Please note that our BoB licence is for educational purposes only, and only for use within the UK.

Box of Broadcasts is a truly fantastic database.

Visit learning on screen and use your university login to start watching.

Day Three: LibKey Nomad

This amazing tool will help you get full-text access to books and articles! You can add it as a browser extension or go to their website. It’s so good it even works on Amazon! It will tell you all the possible sources for the literature you are looking for and where to get them. Check out our Libkey guide here and watch the video below.

Day 4: Wellness

Here in the Library, we believe that looking after your physical and emotional health is just as important as your studies. So we created the Wellbeing Collection. University life can be challenging, even at the best of times. We’ve gathered together these resources in the hope that they help you feel happy, healthy and comfortable at Edinburgh Napier. Our collection covers a range of topics and includes guided self-help approaches to supporting mental health, personal development and achievement. You’ll find stories of resilience and recovery, discussions of family matters, and practical tools to help with the everyday realities of University life, such as finance and exam stress. If you have any suggestions, you can email library@napier.ac.uk

Day 5: DigiMap

Digimap is an online map and data delivery service. Digimap offers a number of data collections, including Ordnance Survey, historical, geological, LiDAR and marine maps and spatial data. You can create or interrogate a map online by selecting an appropriate base map, adding annotations and customising the content, use measurement and query tools to learn more about any study area. Download the raw spatial data in a wide range of formats for use in local GIS, CAD or image processing software.

Read more about Digimap in our blog post “Introducing DigiMap

Check out their DigiMap help guides on YouTube

Day 6: Databases

We provide 190 databases covering every imaginable subject, from engineering to art. We have you covered. You can find them all on LibrarySearch . If you need a bit of help on how to navigate, we have subject-specific Libguides to help you get a more tailored research experience.

Check in with the Blog next week for Part Two!

By Juliet Kinsey and Maya Green

An Oyster full of Opportunities: National Career Development Month

An Oyster full of Opportunities: National Career Development Month


With the end of November coming, and with that, the end of National Career Development Month: an oyster full of opportunities. Today, we are going to reflect, looking at what Napier can do for you.

Background and Information…

Spanning from the 1st of November to the 30th of November, National Career Development Month returns  to promote the significance of career progression and planning. This is a month-long campaign by the National Career Development Association. All since 1967.  Introduced with the primary objective of encouraging an increase in comprehensive career services and assistance. And providing a platform for organisations, educational institutions and careers advisors to actively assist individuals with their career journeys through the provision of effective support, guidance and resources. To support whether seeking a career change, trying to reach professional goals and excel in their current role, or require assistance with progressing into a specific career pathway.

What is a career?

The simple and widely recognised definition of a career is the occupation and position of employment which an individual holds. And usually, one which involves specific training and specialised learning. It is also an over-arching definition for a lifetime of learning and progression in an individual’s ‘journey’. With personal development, extensive training and acquiring new skills along the way.

Our Student Futures Team…

Student Futures is our dedicated team of career professionals who can help with anything career. From CV writing to interview support. And more information about them and their resources can be found here.



Remember at some point in our childhoods being asked what we wanted to be when we grew up?  In relation to which career we wanted to pursue in the future.  And some people are still figuring out their career. If you find yourself relating to this, there is a vast range of support and resources out there.  Available on Library Search.

Thinking about Postgraduate study,  we have a blog post

by Rachel Downie

Photo source Javier Allegue Barros

© 2024 The Library Blog

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑