snàth handspun yarns and handknits

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Oidhche Challain + the old New Year

It used to be that Islay’s Gaelic choir hosted an Old New Year ceilidh in a local hotel, and good fun it was, too. Hasn’t happened for a few years, and hopefully will again as it’s a pity to let the old traditions go uncelebrated.


10408080_10152491934517665_6887282285845038757_nBliadhna mhath ùr! Happy new year! No, you’re not going mad, for it is the 12th of January and thenew year; the old new year, that is. In Gaelic tradition, the New Year begins now,with candles lit in each window the night before to welcome in the new year. It’s not a tradition much observed any more, butI make a quiet note of it to myself each year. Oidhche Challain – Hogmanay – would see ceilidhs andfirst footing undertaken, tales told and songs sung. Different areas would have their own particular traditions to see out the old year;thisarticle mentions some Uist specialities.


As my dad always reminds me, it is from this point onwards in the year that each day lengthens by a cockerel’s step:’ceum coileach air an latha’. It’s a good thought to bear in mind when the weather is unforgiving and the darkness rarely lifts.

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2 comments on “Oidhche Challain + the old New Year

  1. Lynne Strachan
    April 7, 2017

    I will be visiting Islay in early May. Can you inform me of a yarn shop on the island that carries local yarns? I appreciate it. Lynne

    • susanwriting
      April 7, 2017

      Lynne, Islay is a small place, and the yarns for sale here are usually in shops where other things are also sold. Try the Quilters Workshop in Islay House Square, Bridgend. I will be selling my locally made handspun yarns at the Made in Islay & Jura craft markets on Thursdays, in Bruichladdich village hall. Hope to see you there.

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This entry was posted on January 12, 2017 by .

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