Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Oidche Chalain in South Uist

Returning to the recent event on Berneray, other parts of the Uists hold similar events. A description, from Flickr user Howbeg in South Uist:
"Oidche chalain in South Uist is New Year's Eve where the boys (only) go round the houses and are given food and savouries, never sweets or money. All the young boys from the village go round all the houses and stand outside the door and recite a duan or poem. Then they come in and the woman of the house dishes out food to them. She then passes a lit candle round her head three times and then does the cross. If the candle remains lit you will have a prosperous New Year to come.

They then go to an allocated house, and pour all the stuff on the floor; all the boys then go out of the room bar one, he calls names and doles the stuff evenly among the rest. That way, eveyone has a share."

A picture, and some more detail, by Flickr user Loch Eynort, who also hails from South Uist:


"A number of villages still keep up the tradition namely Stoneybridge, Boisdale and Ludag. Once outside a house, they remain behind the door and recite a duan which normally ends with the words, "Fosgal an dorus agus leig a staigh mi" ("Open the door and let us in").

Once inside the lady or person of the house dishes out things like tea, bread, fruit (in our village we dont give sweets or money) as the reason behind the visit is to go to the nominated house and they then share the food and that meant every house in the village had plenty of food. The candle bit goes back to the days when the light was lit by a cruisgean (fish oil lamp)."

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