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Very interesting! My husband's late grandmother was Scottish and we always sent her a wee bottle of whisky to help her celebrate Hogmanay.

Kalen Hughes

You remind me that I need to take myself off to The Edinburgh Castle (best Scottish bar in San Francisco!) for a New Year's drink. Thanks for the great info, I’d never heard of The Ba’, but one of my heroines is so going to get caught in the middle of that!!!


Great post, Susan/Sarah!

Sherrie Holmes

Dougie MacLean. What an utterly pure and marvelous voice! Thank you so much for that audio clip, Susan/Sarah.



I experienced the very same thing in the far northern mountains of Greece/border of Macedonia, many years ago. We were woken up at crack of dawn by men wearing wolfskins (and skulls) and bearskins, and with a "bride" and "groom" and "priest" and all sorts. They played music on various instruments -- one of which was a bagpipe.

And being of Scots background myself, I'll tak a wee dram and drink your health, wenchlings. Happy New Year.


"Along with gift-giving, dances, celebrations by torch light, there was also the Highland game of playing ball – later called The Ba’ .. snip....
The streets were lined with cheering specators as the Ba’ was kicked and propelled in and out of streets, through kailyards and chicken yards, up and down heathery hills, and the mad playing would go on all day long. "

Sounds a lot like the early games of Australian football played in Melbourne in the 1850s.

But I also wondered whether that's what that line from The Bonnie Earl of Moray means
"He was a braw gallant and he played at the ba' " (which I always heard as ball with the l dropped, as it often is in some accents. ) I always imagined him playing... maybe the bagpipes at a ball (of the dance sort) but maybe it means this game. He also played at the ring. Don't know what that was.

Sorry for getting carried away with multiple posts. Very interesting post. Thanks

Susan Sarah

Teresa- Oh yes, the whiskey! A very important part of a guid Scots celebration. ;)
Kalen- the Scots do know how to have a great endless holiday! I was thrilled to find the research bit about the ball game, which fits perfectly with one of the Highland stories I'm currently writing for Avon (2 at once, crazy or what). Lots of fun though.
Sherrie - glad you liked the Dougie clip! Check out his music at http://www.dougiemaclean.com
Anne -- that's fascinating! Macedonia, wow!
I know the Scots ballad you mentioned. There's lots of different kinds of ba' played in Scotland, could be almost anything. I wonder if 'playing at the ring' might be jousting, he was a 16th c. laddie. Or maybe some sort of gambling game. When they weren't playing ba' or the golfe, they were playing cards. *g*

~Susan Sarah

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