Sunday, 13 January 2008

Calluinn night 2008

They came, they sang, they collected 2 SNP bags full of chocolates, satsumas (5 portions), quavers, fairy cakes, flip-flops and other stuff, they sang again, the older boys took an interest in my wine collection again, they left. Yes, it's that night of the year again; there are still pictures of last years: [1] [2].

Calluinn is an ancient tradition, to mark the start of the old new year (under the Julian calendar, before it switched to the Gregorian calendar c.1600AD). Berneray is one of the very few places to still celebrate this date. In past years, it used to be teenagers and young men who wandered around the houses, collecting food. Nowadays, the school children of the island go round the various houses, reciting an old Gaelic rhyme, and collecting sweets and money.

So here they are at my front door:


... and in my kitchen, patiently singing that rhyme again:


The costumes and masks were, as you can see, very imaginative and diverse this year. Awards, as decided solely by me:

  • Best costume / most effort: Shannon

  • Best attempt to raid my wine selection: David

  • Most imaginative costume: Jennifer; we thought at first it was taking the mick out of another resident, but it turned out to be the Stig from Top Gear.

  • Deepest voiced singer: Donnie (just how old are you?)

For the best costume, Shannon wins the prize of a tin of bear meat.


  1. I don't understand; why do some have costumes and some do not? What is the significance of the costumes? We don't have this in Los Angeles. We have 'trick or treat', which is a highly supervised event every fall where children are chaperoned on pre-arranged visits to neighbouring houses.

  2. Stewie: there is a school of thought that Trick or Treat is a derivative of Calluinn, or similar, old traditions. The kids make their own costumes; the event isn't tied in to one theme e.g. halloween with similar costumes.

  3. I think you will find that Russia celebrates the old calender new year as much as the new. This isn't something unique to Berneray.

  4. I have mentioned you, i.e. put in a link and quoted some text, in a posting I did today. It is in regards to the Auld New Year. [See blogsite above].

  5. Oidche Chalain in South Uist at Silversprite24 August 2008 at 23:09

    [...] to the recent event on Berneray, other parts of the Uists hold similar events. A description, from Flickr user Howbeg in South [...]