My friend was getting married and all of us were on our way to enjoy a typical Scottish wedding. My friend Jane wasn’t a Scot by any definition but she was marrying her high school sweetheart Clyde. Clyde was born and brought up in Scotland. His family could trace their Scottish ancestry across many generations. That’s how Jane and her entire troop (friends and family included) made their way to Scotland for her special day.
I have to say that Scotland was beautiful but I wish Clyde had prepared us for the Scottish traditions to come. I’m not even sure if Jane knew about them. With the wedding just a few days away, Clyde informed everyone about a party that his family would be hosting. He said that it was the norm before any Scottish wedding. It was a tradition that they followed to ward off all evil spirits and ensure that the couple would have a great life ahead. Then he said something that struck me as weird at that time. It was only later that understood what he meant. He told us to come in our oldest clothes as we would be getting dirty.
We gamely arrived dressed in our worst and boy was I glad that I followed his advice. Looking around I saw barrels of uggghhh… I really can’t say what. Some had flour, others feathers. There were even some which were filled with treacle and soot! I couldn’t help wondering if we had got the venue wrong. From the corner of my eye, I watched as Jane arrived at the scene. She wrinkled her nose. To me she looked surprised too!
A number of the local Scots had gathered around and the mood was festive. It was baffling. A loud cheer went through the air and I turned to see Clyde making his entry. What happened next was hard to imagine. The guys in the vicinity pounced on Clyde and ripped of his shirt. Someone produced a chair and smeared his face with flour. In a matter of seconds the calm atmosphere transformed into boisterous activity. Flour, treacle and soot started flying in all directions. I think some of the Scots had real bad aim as even though I was standing far away, I had to pick a feather or two off my head!
A small scream caught my attention. The women from Clyde’s family had caught hold of Jane and pulled her on to a chair. It wasn’t long before everyone was treating her the same way her fiance was being treated. Deciding that it wouldn’t hurt to try it out, I gave it a whirl. I think I applied more soot on myself than I did on her. Despite the circumstances, the excitement was contagious!
Both Clyde and Jane were paraded around the town. It was only later that I learnt that it was called the blackening of the bride/groom. A tradition that was native to Scotland. The Scottish people believed that if the bride and groom can handle the humiliation that this tradition brings them, then they can handle anything (including marriage!). On my part I’m sure Jane was glad it happened days before the wedding. It was going to take a very long bath to get all the goop out of her hair!
I’d like to extend a special “thank you” to our friends over at DJ’s Bail Bonds for their contributions to our blog.