Edinburgh Napier University

Category: Celebration Week

May Day

May Day

Ancient Europe

May Day today, the start of Summer. Celebrations can date to the Ancient Romans and Celts. The ancient Celts celebrated the 1st of May with the festival of Beltane throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Island of Man. Beltane festival was marked with bonfires to symbolise the ‘return of life and fertility’ associated with the beginning of Summer. Whilst, the Romans celebrated May Day as a five-day celebration to worship the Roman Goddess of flowers, Flora.

 Medieval Europe

The medieval times brought the tradition of the maypole dance, the exact date and place of origins of the maypole dance is not clear. However, it is still celebrated today. Like the bonfires of the Ancient Romans and Celts, the maypole symbolises fertility. It is a tall wooden pole decorated with floral garlands. And people danced around the pole with the joy that summer is returning.

The Industrial Age

Moving on May Day has become symbolic of workers’ rights which originated in the United States during the 19th century. In Chicago, in 1884, the American Federation of Labour proclaimed that the eight-hour working day would become legal after the 1st May 1886. And worker strikes and protests began for this proclamation. The US government sent in the police and the tension resulted in the Haymarket Riot. In the years after, workers around the United States and Europe demonstrated on the May 1st, in commemoration of the Haymarket riots. Later the Soviet Union would also proclaim May 1st as a workers’ holiday.


Today, perhaps May Day is less seen as either a worker’s holiday or rural festivities. However, the day is still a public holiday in some countries and some festivities continue.

You can read about May and Springtime

Photo source Kristine Tanne

Record Store Day 22nd April

Record Store Day 22nd April

April 22nd is Record Store Day celebrating the small, independent record stores that offer in-store shopping for classic and newly released vinyl records. Although we now mostly listen to music through streaming services, until the 1980’s vinyl was the preferred method. When the compact disc arrived in 1982 it spelt trouble for vinyl records. Improved sound and portability meant that purchases of vinyl records plummeted. There was still a small market for vinyl-DJs who preferred the sound and found it easier to mix tracks on vinyl, and collectors who wanted to own as many releases as possible from their favourite artist. Without the convenience of Internet shopping, collectors had to visit shops in person or use mail-order facilities if available.
Some artists persisted with vinyl. In 1983 New Order released Blue Monday on 12-inch vinyl despite the huge popularity of CDs. The track has gone on to become the best-selling 12-inch single of all time. Despite this, vinyl sales were still badly in decline. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, sales of vinyl albums tumbled from a peak of 1.1 billion worldwide in 1981 to 450 million in 1989; 109 million in 1993; and just 33 million in 1995. By 1997, they were down to 17 million, and they plunged as low as 3 million in 2006. Many independent record stores closed, but some managed to stay open thanks to their loyal customers.

Vinyl Comeback

By 2020 however, vinyl sales had taken off again with over 27.5 million sales in America. Why the rise in popularity? According to Robert Palmer of Roan Records in London:
“There is definitely something to be said for the tangibility of vinyl. Anyone can stream music any time they want, but for those looking for a deeper connection to music, you can’t match a physical record you can hold in your hands and go through the ritual of putting it on and listening.”
Then there’s the artwork. There are many iconic album covers which are often more collectable than the album itself.
As part of the resurgence of vinyl, the inaugural Record Store Day was held in 2007. It’s a day when small independent record shops celebrate their culture and role in in their communities. The shops put on special promotions such as limited editions of vinyl records by well-known and lesser-known artists in colour or 12-inch format and they may also have live music in-store. The aim is to shine a spotlight on independent record stores and hopefully increase revenue as well as try to introduce people to new music. Business students may find it interesting to note the different marketing strategies used.

Edinburgh and Records

Going along on the day is a great way to meet people and make friends with a shared interest in music, get to know some new music or begin a new hobby collecting vinyl or album artwork.
Click on the link below to find a list of Edinburgh independent record stores:
Edinburgh record stores.

We contacted local independent record stores to find out what they are doing for RSD. Here’s what the ones who replied told us:

Thorne Records  Will be open 8am-8pm and have beers, good vibes and all the releases.

Underground Solu’shn  Will be open from 8am and will have a selection of DJs and live performances in the afternoon. Will stock all the RSD releases.

Assai Records  Will be open from 8am and have most of the releases. Also hoping to have live music.

Whether it’s grunge or jazz, Britpop or hip hop we all have our go-to music to help with study, and chores or to listen to when socializing with friends. Listening to music can also have psychological benefits which can improve mental health. Click on the link below for more information:

Psychological benefits of music

Library Resources

In the library, we are promoting our Spotify playlist and in our relaxation spaces, we have posters explaining how listening to music benefits mental health and well-being.


Craiglockhart campus relaxation space has a small number of artist biographies available from Ozzy Osborne to Freddie Mercury.

You can use Library Search to find music books, music scores and CDs in the Edinburgh Napier collection.

By Vivienne Hamiliton

You can read more in our about World Music Day in this post

Image Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Scrabble Day

Scrabble Day

Little did unemployed architect Alfred Mosher Butts realise, as he set out to amuse himself during the Great Depression of 1938, that he was about to change the games world forever. As he sat at home carving out those little wooden letter tiles, his only thought was to keep himself and his wife amused with word games. Combining crossword puzzles and anagrams, he called his game Lexiko.

A decade on, James Brunot bought the rights, changed the name to Scrabble (from the verb to scratch frantically), sold it to department store Macy’s. And sent the game all over the world. To date, more than 150 million games of Scrabble have been bought. And it’s been translated into at least 29 languages, including Braille.

The 13th of April is National Scrabble Day (chosen to commemorate Butts’ birthday) and the Association of British Scrabble Players has arranged a series of tournaments throughout the next couple of months, including the Scottish Open on May 20th-21st. Find out more here:


Playing Scrabble

Of course, these days, there are a myriad ways to play Scrabble. You can play online, against a pal or a robot. You can take part in a tournament, or download the app and play by yourself. But we’re old-fashioned in our attitude to Scrabble and believe the best way to play is the way it’s always been played. With that foldy-up board, a pencil and paper for marking the score, and those fiddly little pale tiles.

That’s why we’ve got a box in our relaxation zone within Merchiston library. If you’re stressing before an exam, chilling after handing in a paper, or just taking some time out from your studies, pop in with a pal and crack open a game. Oh, and here’s a tip. If you want to notch up an incredible 1778 points, make sure you find a way to fit in oxyphebutazone – the highest-possible scoring word in Scrabble.

Let me leave you with this fun but useless factoid: a Z is only worth 1 point in Polish Scrabble.

You can read more game based posts like our one from last year, International Games Month

or you can play some games over on our virtual relaxation space

by Lesley McRobb

Photo source: UnSplash Clarissa Watson

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