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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

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

What is COP-26? The Climate change Conference of Parties

COP26 Image

All eyes will be on Scotland this month as leaders from across the globe meet in Glasgow to attend COP-26: the climate change Conference of Parties. You may be wondering what the 26 stands for? Well, it’s the 26th annual summit since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) treaty was signed in 1994. So, that’s 27 years that we’ve been arguing about change while the world’s environment has been steadily deteriorating.

There is another significance to the number 26 – the Conference has 26 goals that it intends to achieve. The first is to secure global net-zero emissions by 2030 and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. We are currently not on target, and 2030 is only nine years away.

If you’re keen to find out what the other 25 goals are, you can read the official document here.

Of course, we’re conscious of the fact that we are the host nation for this crucial summit, and we wish our Glasgow friends and neighbours well. We know they’ll be fantastic hosts. We’re hopeful that harmony will prevail and that the leaders come to a unanimous agreement about how to save our (only) planet.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is certainly determined that this will happen and pledged in a speech on October 25th that “Scotland is seeking to lead by example”. Read what she has to say here.

A bit closer to home, the COP26 Edinburgh Summit takes place on 3rd and 4th at the Dovecot Studios in Infirmary Street, with a range of speakers and business leaders discussing their climate visions for our own city.

And here at Edinburgh Napier, we are committed to achieving our own net-zero in carbon emissions. Read about our commitments here and be sure to hold our feet to the fire!

Read more on Climate Change using Librarysearch.napier.ac.uk and you can read more about Sustainability in Academic Libraries here.

By Lesley McRobb

 

 

Remembrance Day and The Poppy

World War One, Remembrance Day and The Poppy

The battles of the First World War (WWI) devastated the countryside of Western Europe. One of the plants that survived the churned-up battlefields was the poppy. As the soldiers saw scarlet poppies bloom through the terrible destruction, they were encouraged to see that life could recover. One soldier, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was inspired to write the poem, In Flanders Fields, in the spring of 1915. 

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky 

The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie, 

 In Flanders fields

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 

To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Subsequently, Since WW1 the poppy has become the universal emblem of remembrance, symbolising the sacrifices that soldiers in past wars made for us. 

The Selling of Poppies

In the United Kingdom, artificial poppies are sold by the Royal British Legion in the run-up to 11th November (Poppy Day). Importantly this is when the Armistice (an agreement to end the fighting) began at 11am on 11th November 1918. Furthermore, sales from the poppies go to providing financial, social and emotional support to British Armed Forces serving soldiers, former soldiers and their dependents. This year is the centenary of the UK Poppy Appeal. 

The original Poppy Days were created by Madame Guerin to raise funds for the French widows and orphans of the War. In 1921 she took samples of her artificial poppies to the Royal British Legion and proposed an Inter-Allied Poppy Day during which all WW1 allied countries use artificial poppies as an emblem of remembrance.

The poppies would be made by French widows and orphans and raise funds for the families of the fallen as well as survivors of the conflict. Although the idea was initially not well received by the British public, the WW1 British Army commander Earl Haig was keen, and after that, when the Royal British Legion held its first Poppy Day on 11th November 1921, it was a great success. Those first poppies were made in France, but from 1922 British veterans made the poppies at the Richmond factory which now employs 50 ex-servicemen all year round. In 1926 Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh was established to produce poppies for Scotland. Over 5 million Scottish poppies are made by hand each year. 

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Welcome back to campus

Picture of Library staff

Welcome back to our returning students. We hope you enjoyed your summer and are ready for the new academic year. You will find there are still some covid-19 precautionary measures in place in the library and here is a short guide to let you know what has changed and what has stayed the same:

The Library opening hours can be viewed here.

Hand sanitisers are still at library entrances, and sanitizing stations are still positioned throughout libraries.

We are still operating social distancing measures, so some study spaces are unavailable. Where spaces are not in use you will see a cross on the desk and the chair will be covered up.

Group study rooms must be booked using Resource Booker, but individual spaces do not need to be booked.

Our Click and collect service continues, and you can still request books from your home campus.

Books and Lapsafe laptops which have been on loan over the summer will be due back by 1st October. After that, books will have a loan period of up to 4 months providing they are not requested by another user. Lapsafe laptops will be 14-day loans.

From 14th September you will be able to make requests for items that are out on loan.

Soft furnishings have been returned to the libraries allowing social spaces and relaxation spaces to be opened up.

The SCONUL access scheme is set to re-start in November.

If you have any questions, you can contact the library at any time.

By Vivienne Hamilton

War Poets Collection: Remembering Siegfried Sassoon

Siegfried Sassoon

September is the time when we celebrate the acclaimed war poet Siegfried Sassoon.

Siegfried Sassoon was born 8th September 1886, and died in 1967, on September 1st. Sassoon was a talented poet, writer and soldier. He received the Military Cross for bravery during the First World War.

He wrote fervent pieces that spoke of compassion for his fellow soldiers, and his anger towards those he believed could have ended the war sooner but instead prolonged it.

Sassoon continued to write for the rest of his life, publishing many important works such as Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man and Memoirs of an Infantry Officer.

 

Sassoon was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital (Now our Craiglockhart campus) during World War One. Here he met Wilfred Owen during his convalescence, and together they produced some of the finest war poetry ever written.

Craiglockhart War Hospital (old Hydropathic Hotel) photographs of Staff and patients

Craiglockhart War Hospital

You can visit our permanent exhibition area containing more than 600 unique items. It allows visitors to get an insight into war through the experiences of the poets. Access to the War Poets Collection remains limited due to social distancing, so if you would like to visit please contact us first.

The War Poets collection at Craiglockhart campus

Not only do we have many items in our permanent exhibit, but we also have a treasure trove of exciting new material. It has been loaned to Edinburgh Napier’s War Poets Collection for the period covering the Centenary of the First World War Armistice on November 11th. The new exhibits, which will be available for public viewing, include original photographs of celebrated war poet Siegfried Sassoon, work privately printed by him and an original of his famous war protest letter of July 1917. Read more about it here.

If you would like to read some of his works, here are some sources:

 

For Library Members

Siegfried Sassoon: poet’s pilgrimage

Siegfried Sassoon : (1886-1967)

Dr W. H. R. Rivers: Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves ‘fathering friend’

You can check out Librarysearch.napier.ac.uk for access to many more wonderful University materials

Online

10 Siegfried Sassoon Poems Everyone Should Read

The Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Sources

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/sassoon_siegfried.shtml

https://siegfriedsfellowship.wixsite.com/siegfriedsassoon

War Poets Collection

 

 

 

Highland Games

Highland Games are a traditional event held in many Scottish towns during the summer and are a mixture of sporting, cultural and social events. The well-known events such as tossing the caber and the hammer throw are only for the strongest and fittest competitors!

Origin and history

It is believed that the Highland Games originated in Ireland around 2000BC and they were brought to Scotland with 4th and 5th century migrations of the Scotti people into Dalriada (Argyll). The games may have become a way of choosing the strongest and most able men for the household of clan chieftains, with musicians and dancers also sought to add prestige to the clan. The first historical reference to Highland Games-type events was made during the 11th century. They were banned following the Battle of Culloden in 1746 but the ban was lifted in the early 19th century.

The Braemar Gathering is the most famous of all Highland Games. Queen Victoria attended the games in 1838 and royal support has continued since then. Queen Victoria’s endorsement of the games ensured the growth of such events and their export around the world. Highland Games now take place in many different countries, particularly countries where Scots emigrated to in large numbers such as Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

The Ceres Games in Fife are considered the oldest, continuous Highland Games in Scotland and began in 1314.

 

Highlands, Scotland

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Events

It wouldn’t be a Highland Games without the traditional strong man events such as tossing the caber and the tug of war.

Tossing the caber-The caber is a large wooden pole and the name derives from the Gaelic word cabar which refers to a wooden beam. The caber is around 20 feet long and normally weighs around 150 pounds. Competitors must balance the caber in their hands and perform a run-up before they toss it. Throws are judged on their straightness – a perfect toss sees the small end of the caber facing away from the thrower at a 12 o’clock angle.

Hammer throw-The “hammer” used consists of a metal ball weighing around 22 pounds attached by a steel wire to a grip. Competitors use the handle to whirl the hammer around their head and throw it as far as they can.

Tug of war-This event involves teams of eight pulling against another team of eight, encouraged by another team member who shouts instructions and encouragement to spur their team to pull the other one across the line to win the event.

 

These competitions make the games a thrilling event, but to add to the spectacle there are also other attractions.

Highland dancing – Dancers give dazzling displays on pointed toes of dances such as the Highland Fling and the sword dance. They wear colourful tartan outfits and compete in solo and group events.

Pipe bands-They will play for entertainment and in competitive events.

More recently Highland Games have become a celebration of country life and many now include events such as:

Animal exhibitions-Displays of Highland cattle, Clydesdale horses and Shetland ponies.

Sheep dog trials-Competitions against the clock.

Food stalls-Showcasing local produce with free tastings.

Arts and crafts.

Re-enactments-Groups give displays of sword fights, spinning yarn and cooking.

More recently novelty events have been added such as wellie throwing and tossing the haggis.

Sadly due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions most of Scotland’s major events have been cancelled this year. A few events are still going ahead and the calendar can be viewed here.

Hopefully you will be able to visit a Highland Games in the future and get to enjoy all they have to offer.

Sword carving

markus-spiske-DRtaBL8Xx24-unsplash.jpg

 

Article written by Vivienne Hamilton

Woman’s History Month: Wonder Women of Scotland

Woman’s History Month: Wonder Women of Scotland

To celebrate Women’s History month we thought it might be nice to celebrate some incredible Scottish women both alive and sadly gone. We can only fit in a few here so if you are interested in learning more, why not look up some more information at librarysearch.napier.ac.uk

Christina Miller

Photo of Christina Miller

Source: Heriot Watt University

One little know Scottish woman whose story deserves to be better remembered is Christina Miller. Despite being born both female and hearing impaired in 1899, and later losing her sight in one eye, she battled against the norms of the time to become a respected analytical chemist. She was an inspirational teacher and mentor to generations of students.

Miller was awarded the Keith Prize by the Royal Society of Edinburgh for her scientific paper on phosphorus trioxide, and become one of the first 5 to become elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. There is even a building at the University of Edinburgh named after her.

Photo of Mukami McCrum

Source: British Library

Mukami McCrum

All-round amazing person, Mukami McCrum has lived in Scotland most of her life. She fights for women’s rights, in particular BAME and LGBT women who need support from domestic abuse. She is one of the founders of Shakti Women’s Aid and campaigns to end Female Genital Mutilation.

She was the chief executive of Central Scotland Racial Equality Council and has brought her deep commitment to race and gender justice to many organisations, including Akina Mama wa Afrika, World Council of Churches, Responding to Conflict Trust. She has an MBE for her community and human rights work.

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The Poet and the Doctor, Craiglockhart War Hospital 1917 (War Poets Collection)

Craiglockhart War Hospital March 1917  Image courtesy of Edinburgh Napier University

The month of March includes two important dates in the calendar for the War Poets Collection at Craiglockhart Campus, as we mark the birthday’s of the celebrated poet  Wilfred Owen (born 18th March 1893) and the eminent psychiatrist and anthropologist, Dr William Rivers (born 12th March 1864)

At our Craiglockhart campus, the original building was used as a military hospital during the First World War.  The hospital treated around 1801 officers, suffering mostly from neurasthenia  , or war neurosis, between 1916-1919. Neurasthenia was more commonly known at the time as shell shock.

Craiglockhart old frontage

Craiglockhart old frontage

Those of you who studied English literature at school may be familiar with Wilfred Owen, the WW1 soldier-poet, as his works are taught not only in the UK  but in many other countries around the world.  2nd Lt. Owen was to become one of the leading poets of the First World War.  He was treated at Craiglockhart War Hospital for shell shock during the summer months of 1917.  Wilfred was in the care of Dr (Capt.) Arthur Brock, who treated his patients using ergo-therapy, or the “work cure”.  More than a century later, the University’s Occupational Therapy students provide us with a contemporary link to Dr Brock’s work.

Wilfred Owen Bust. Sculpture by Anthony Padgett.

Many of Wilfred Owen’s  poems, such as Anthem for Doomed Youth and Dulce et Decorum Est  were drafted or composed whilst he was a patient and he edited six issues of the hospital magazine, The Hydra.  Wilfred Owen recovered his health and returned to the Front but was killed on active service on the 4th November 1918, just one week before the Armistice was declared.

Image of Hydra Magazine

The recently discovered missing copies of The Hydra magazine.

One of the most recognised names in English anthropology and psychiatry is that of Doctor William H R Rivers, born in Chatham, Kent on 12th March 1864.  William Rivers qualified as a doctor from the University of London and St Bartholomew’s Hospital at the tender age of twenty-two, the youngest graduate until recent times. You may recognise the hospital, as the Duke of Edinburgh was treated there for a heart problem recently. Rivers lectured at the University of Cambridge and was a polymath, being involved in the fields of ethnography, anthropology, medicine and psychiatry.

Dr Rivers joined the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War and was appointed Senior Psychiatrist at Craiglockhart War Hospital.  Dr (Capt.) Rivers was an extremely popular member of the medical team at the hospital, using dream analysis and the talking cures to help his patients. He is best known in literary circles as being the doctor who treated the poet Siegfried Sassoon at Craiglockhart. Dr Rivers returned to academia after the war but died in June 1922.

You can find out more about both these men in the War Poets Collection at Craiglockhart (University Covid-19 restrictions apply at the moment) or visit our website at www.napier.ac.uk/warpoets

By Catherine Walker

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