Edinburgh Napier University

Author: julietkinsey (Page 1 of 4)

Scottish Traditions: Burn’s Night

Burns night Scottish traditions image

Burns Night

Burns Night is a traditional celebration of Scotland’s national bard, or poet, Robert Burns. It is held on 25th January, Burns’s birthday, when Burns suppers are held. They consist of a meal, poetry recitals and songs. The first supper was held at Burns Cottage by his friends on 21st July 1801, the fifth anniversary of his death.

If you think that you don’t know any of Burns’s work, ask yourself if you have ever sung Auld Lang Syne on Hogmanay/New Year’s Eve or used the lines “My love is like a red, red rose” on a Valentine card. If you have then you are familiar with some of his best-known work. Burns wrote his first poem aged 15 and in his short life wrote a vast number of songs and poems that can be accessed here. He wrote in a light Scots dialect which was easier for those outside Scotland to understand and often wrote about very humble subjects, for example, his poem “To a Mouse” is inspired by the field mice Burns saw while ploughing on his farm.

The Life of Robert Burns

Burns was born on 25th January 1759 in Alloway south of Ayr, the son of poor tenant farmers. He received little regular schooling, but his father taught him to read and write along with arithmetic, history and geography. He was also taught Latin, French and maths by John Murdoch.

For much of his life Burns, like his father, was a tenant farmer, all the while writing poetry and songs. But he struggled to make a living from farming and when he was offered a position on a plantation in Jamaica, he decided to emigrate. He could not afford the passage and a friend suggested he try to publish some of his work to raise the funds. In 1786 Poems in the Scottish Dialect was published and became an immediate success. Later that year Burns left for Edinburgh to publish a second edition which again was successful and earned him a substantial sum of money. He was well received in Edinburgh, often a guest of aristocracy, and made many friends, some becoming sponsors.

In 1787 Burns returned to southwest Scotland taking a lease on a farm in Dumfriesshire, but he also trained as an exciseman in case the farm was unsuccessful. He gave up farming in 1791 and moved to Dumfries where he made contributions to several volumes of songs, sometimes adding his own lyrics to traditional folk melodies and composing his own melodies from fragments of tunes. He continued to write poetry too, some advocating reform such as “The Slaves Lament”.

He continued to work as an exciseman, often making long journeys on horseback in all weathers and this may have contributed to his ill-health at a rather young age for the time. On 21st July 1796 Burns died aged just 37.  His body lies in the Burns Mausoleum is St. Michael’s Kirkyard, Dumfries along with that of his wife at the time, Jean Armour.

Burns is renowned for having had many romantic relationships which resulted in several children being born, although not all survived infancy. Today over 900 people worldwide claim to be descendants of Burns.

Host your own Burns Night

Due to covid-19 restrictions, many Burn’s suppers will be cancelled this year, but you could host your own with your household.

Need some inspiration to host your own Burns Supper? Why not try out some Burns Night recipes here. Penguin books have a guide on how to run your night and for inspiration, you can listen to or read some of Burns’s work through our Library.

By Vivienne Hamilton

Learn about other World traditions on our blog by reading:

New Year Traditions from Around the World

Spanish Christmas Traditions

The Ethiopia Timkat Festival

The Timkat Festival

Christmas is a distant memory for most of us, but for Ethiopians, Christmas is a whole season that’s just coming to an end now. Ethiopia was one of the first countries in the world to adopt Christianity, and as such it adheres to the ancient traditions that sit at the heart of its Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Timkat, celebrated every year on the 19th of January, is one of those traditions, possibly the most important in the Church’s calendar.

The Amharic word timkat means “baptism”, and the festival marks the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan.

Preparations

Timkat is a huge deal and a seriously religious festival. Preparations for this spectacular event, possibly one of the biggest and most colourful on the African continent, begin on the 18th, when “tabots” – models of the  Ark of the Covenant – are wrapped in fine cloths and carried on the heads of priests down to the river or other place of worship. Local people don white shawls – Ethiopians wear white when they go to church – and follow the procession.

The Festival

Mass starts in the early hours of the 19th and continues for hours. When Mass is over, the water is blessed and the congregants take to the rivers, submerging themselves in a re-enactment of Christ’s baptism. Of course, it’s a happy occasion and that means the celebrations go on all day and are accompanied by feasting and music.  As well as eating their favourite Timkat food, Ethiopians celebrate important occasions with elaborate coffee ceremonies.

On the 20th, the tabots are carried back to the churches in another procession that marks the end of the festival.

One of the best places to observe Timkat is the town of Gondar, home to the 17th century castle built by King Fasilides. In the grounds of the castle is a huge open-air bath. The bath is usually empty, but during Timkat it’s filled with water and the locals dive in. A few years ago I was fortunate enough to visit Ethiopia over the festive season. I missed Timkat by a couple of weeks. When I visited King Fasilides castle it was empty. Next time I go, I’m definitely going for Timkat, and I’m taking my swimming costume.

Want to learn more about other traditions from around the world? Read our article here.

By Lesley McRobb

Library Welcome Week

welcome sign outside library

Welcome to the Library!

Hello and a very warm welcome to all students joining us this trimester from all of us in the Library. We wish you all the best with your studies and look forward to meeting many of you soon.

Whether you are on campus or studying online, if you are looking for information on how to use the Library services the Introduction to Computing and Library Services module on Moodle is an excellent starting point.

Introductory Sessions

We will be holding quick and friendly online introductory sessions to both the Physical Library and the Online Library during the first few weeks of the trimester. You can sign up for these and many other library skills sessions using the Training and Events Calendar.

Information on Library opening times, how to access or borrow the resources you need for your studies, accessing reading lists, and many more library services can be found on the Library webpages. If you need any further support, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0131 455 3500 or email us at library@napier.ac.uk . We are here to help you!

Keep up to date on all the latest news from the Library on Instagram and Twitter.

New Year Traditions from Around the World

World New Year Traditions

A lump of coal just won’t cut it anymore. I need a more carbon-neutral gift to take to my neighbours at New Year, and you don’t get much more carbon-laden than a lump of coal. I started to wonder if there were any tips I could pick up from revellers around the world. My research didn’t offer up any gifts, but I did find some interesting traditions – some quite quirky – that I may adopt.

Japan

Let’s start in the land of the rising sun.  Joya-no-kane is the ancient Japanese tradition of ringing temple bells. The bell is typically rung 107 times on 31st December and once more when the clock strikes midnight. According to Buddhist philosophy, 108 is a holy number, representing as it does the 108 material desires that humans experience throughout the course of their lives. When the bell is struck for the 108th time, it is believed it rings away the problems and worries from the previous year. Many temples attract huge crowds of worshippers on these occasions. The Chion-in temple in Kyoto and Nara’s Todaiji temple are famous for their gigantic bells, the ringing of which requires the efforts of more than a dozen monks.

Brazil

Down in Brazil a rowdier, yet no less spiritual tradition, is unfolding as the goddess Iemanjá, Queen of the Ocean, rises out of the sea in Rio de Janeiro (in the form of a human representative). Revellers flock to the beach as fireworks explode overhead and samba music fills the air. Up to 2 million people, typically wearing white as a sign of peace, place white flowers and floating candles on the shore and send them out as offerings to the goddess, hoping that she’ll grant their wishes in the new year.  But beware – if your offer is washed back to you, Iemanjá is not pleased and may not grant your wish.

Costa Rica

Moving north, and those Costa Ricans really know how to celebrate. You’re welcome to join in as they feast all night and party on the beach. Make sure you dress for the occasion, though – and that means wearing yellow underwear for good luck. Oh, and don’t forget to throw a pan of water – containing all your worries – over your shoulder. The most endearing Costa Rican tradition, in my opinion, is the practice of taking a suitcase for a walk around the neighbourhood to ensure plenty of travel opportunities in the year to come. In these Covid-restricted times, however, it may be best to park the suitcase for the time being. Maybe next year!

Greece

Back in Europe, and the Greeks take a belts-and-braces approach to luck – letting out the bad and welcoming in the good. It’s customary for Greeks to hang an onion on their front doors as a sign of prosperity and regrowth. And on the stroke of midnight, Greeks open all their windows to release those pesky evil spirits, the kallikantzaroi. Try doing that during a Scottish Hogmanay hoolie!

Scotland

Speaking of Scotland. Here we celebrate New Year’s in a big way. The Scots call New Year Hogmanay and it’s used as an excuse for big parties such as Ceilidhs, usually involving large amounts of traditional Scottish food and drink. Once Midnight arrives it is traditional to sing Robert Burns‘ “Auld Lang Syne” whilst holding hands in a circle.

Another Scottish tradition still common is “First footing”. This involves being the first person over the threshold of another’s home bringing a symbolic gift for good luck. If you are being truly traditional it should be a dark-haired male, and he should bring with him symbolic pieces of coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and a wee dram of whisky. The dark-haired male bit is believed to be a throwback to the Viking days, when a big blonde stranger arriving on your doorstep with a big axe meant big trouble, and probably not a very happy New Year! (source)

Denmark

But it’s those northerners, the Danes, who have a really smashing tradition. On New Year’s eve in Denmark, it’s time to gather up all your old broken and chipped crockery and smash it against your friends’ doors. They claim it’s a sign of lifelong friendship, and who am I to argue? After all that exertion, you reward yourself with a slice of kransekage, a huge cake made of layered marzipan. Pity there’s no plate left to serve it on.

However you celebrate, wherever you are, we wish you a very happy New Year, Akemashite Omedetou, Feliz Ano Novo, Feliz Año Nuevo, ευτυχισμένος ο καινούριος χρόνος, Godt Nytår.

By Lesley McRob

Read more about New Year on our blog with our articles on Spanish traditions and New Year’s resolutions

Spanish New Year

New Year in Spain

Not for Spaniards the heavy stodge of black bun or shortbread. They prefer something altogether lighter to bring in the New Year. To navigate the transition between the old year and the year to come – año nuevo – Spaniards stay at home, and, at midnight, it’s customary to eat las doce uvas (the twelve lucky grapes), one on each stroke of the clock.

It doesn’t matter if they’re red or white, seedless or not, eating 12 grapes is supposed to bring good luck, prosperity, and happiness for the year ahead because they represent each month of the year.

The truth is that the practice became established in 1909, when some of Alicante’s vine growers popularized this custom in order to sell huge numbers of grapes from an excellent harvest.

Before COVID arrived (and ideally again in the future), families or friends usually got together for a delicious dinner and then meet in the central square or any iconic local place to welcome the new year on this special and magic night.

The chiming of the clock is broadcast on TV all over Spain. After eating the grapes, the atmosphere is an explosion of joy, fireworks, confetti, music and dance until the early hours.

This year

This year like the previous one, the excitement will need to be much more contained and restricted in order to protect one another. However, I still encourage you to make the most of it with a physical or virtual toast, good wishes and resolutions.

Let’s be hopeful about 2022 and the good things to come. And above all, don’t forget to prepare your lucky grapes: the race to swallow all twelve before the clock stops chiming is lots of fun and your 5 a day fruit intake will be more than accomplished!

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!\

by Emi Pastor

Read about Spanish Christmas traditions in our earlier post here

 

Spanish Christmas Traditions

A Spanish-style Traditional Christmas by Emi Pastor

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 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 in fact, 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 to represent the Nativity, with many accompanying structures such as the desert, town, angel, shepherds and farm animals.

Continue reading

Support and Wellbeing Over The Exam Period

During exam time, it’s important to look after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally. The library is here to support you and your wellbeing over the exam period.

Relaxation Spaces

Each campus library has a relaxation space where you can take a break and relax on comfy furniture or try a mindful activity like colouring or doing a jigsaw puzzle. Check out our virtual relaxation space here on the Library Blog for some excellent wellbeing resources.

Shelf Help

We also have Shelf Help which is a collection of resources aimed at supporting your wellbeing. There are print and ebooks, tv shows, podcasts and more which we’ve organised into themes. You can find resources to help tackle stress, insomnia, anxiety and low self-esteem as well as cookery books to help you eat well on a budget and ways to deal with procrastination and increase your productivity.

Spotify

If you are looking for some relaxing music to listen to while you study, the Library has some Spotify playlists for you here.

Get Outside

One of the best things you can do is to get outside and have a walk in the fresh air. Although don’t forget to wrap up warm in the cold Scottish winter. Nature is proven to help us feel better. Read more on this with our article on “thriving in nature

Contact

Library opening hours can be found here You can also contact the library 24/7 by phone and email on 0131 455 3500 and library@napier.ac.uk

The university is here to support your wellbeing and you can find out more about the services they offer here

By Julie McGregor

Nexis Database: A quick Introduction to using Nexis

Nexis Logo Image

Welcome to Nexis

We know that Nexis is nobody’s favourite database.  We know it can be tricky to navigate it. Saying that, we still like it because it contains more than 40,000 online news and business sources with access to newspapers, trade journals and company market information from around the world. Many of these publications are normally restricted by paywalls. It is, in fact, an academic treasure trove.

When you search with LibrarySearch, articles available on Nexis will appear and you can follow the links through to the database. Alternatively you can also access it through LibrarySearch using the databases tab and searching for “Nexis”

Searching

So far, so good. But maybe you want to do some browsing within Nexis and aren’t sure where to start. You can use the database’s own search form tips, which you can find here – it’s full of advice on setting up folders, search histories and alerts.

In addition to this, we’ve compiled our own set of helpful hints for finding newspaper articles. You can find them here

Happy searching and don’t forget to login into Librarysearch before you start searching!

By Lesley McRobb

Interested in other databases? Try learning more about IBISworld here

International Games Week 2021-coming to a campus library near you!

International Games Week logo

International Games Week 2021-coming to a campus library near you!

22nd November – 28th November

Do you like playing games?  Would you like the chance to win an Amazon voucher?

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that for the 3rd year running the Library is participating in International Games Week, this time with fantastic prizes!  Furthermore we’re sure you are going to have some fun with the games we’ve created

You’ll find links to the activities where prizes are on offer below.

Crossword puzzle

https://puzzel.org/en/crossword/play?p=-MLNhjbHtSqbRO5e_V7F

Jigsaw puzzle

https://www.jigsawplanet.com/?rc=play&pid=28a27c52ebad

Wordsearch

https://thewordsearch.com/puzzle/1601428/edinburgh-napier-library

How to enter

Just take a screenshot of your completed activity and email it to library@napier.ac.uk from your Edinburgh Napier email address.  Alternatively, pick up a paper entry for the Crossword and the Wordsearch at any of our campus libraries.  All entries will be entered into a prize draw to win an Amazon voucher!  The closing date for entries is 30th November 2021.

Good Luck everyone!

Find out more by following us on Twitter @EdNapLib and Instagram @enu_library

Get more ideas for relaxing here

by Cathryn Buckham

Book Week Scotland (15th- 21st November 2021)

book week scotland poster

As the nights draw in and winter approaches you might be thinking about the pleasure of cosying up on the sofa with a good book and, if you’re wondering what to read next, look no further!

Book Week Scotland is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and between 15th and 21st of November, there are events taking place across the country to celebrate books and the joy of reading. This annual celebration is organised by the Scottish Book Trust (SBT) working in partnership with libraries and organisations throughout Scotland. They organise digital or in-person events including workshops, author readings, film showings or the spoken word, to reach a wide range of audiences across all age groups. Check the website for events taking place online or near you.

Every year, the SBT hosts Your Stories, a writing project which aims to encourage members of the public to reflect upon and share aspects of their lives inspired by a theme. The theme this year was Celebration. Anyone can submit a piece of writing and each story submitted is published on the website. A selection of these stories has been published in a book, Celebration, which is freely available in venues up and down the country during Book Week Scotland. The book is also available as a PDF or to download from the SBT website. If you’ve ever considered writing but haven’t known where to begin, the SBT website provides a range of resources to help you get started.

We are pleased to let you know there will be copies of Celebration available (for free!) to collect in all three Edinburgh Napier University Libraries and in the three student residences during Book Week Scotland (while stocks last). Pick up your copy before it’s too late!

Enjoy Book Week Scotland; whether you go to an event, pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read for so long, or simply take a moment to reflect on a celebration meaningful to you.

You can join Book Week Scotland on Facebook at facebook.com/BookWeekScotland

You can follow Book Week Scotland’s Twitter updates at twitter.com/BookWeekScot, and using the hashtag #BookWeekScotland

scottishbooktrust.com

 

By Sarah Jeffcott

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