Thursday, September 27

Celtic Classic is here!

Ach weel, ma friends doon at Celtic Classic ha been settin’ up fer this weekends festivities fer many a week, an I must say they look ready fer company!

Tha’ weather’s cooperatin’ and tha’ entire weekend is lookin’ ta be just gorgeous, wi’ sunny skies, a light breeze, an’ no rain; so tha’ folks at Celtic Classic are expectin’ quite a number o’ people fer their 20th Anniversary!

Many a thing has been improved or jus’ downright spiffed up fer this weekend’s celebration o’ Celtic culture and heritage which is a’ course presented upon Historic Bethlehem’s festival grounds, right along tha banks of Monocacy creek.

My Grannie Grisel ha’s purchased a bran’ new tartan scarf an’ kirtle ta’ impress tha’ bonnie lads in tha’ Highland Athletic competition’; she’s plannin’ on waving ta’ Harrison from tha’ grandstands. I meself an’ hopin’ that tha’ lads doon mistake her fer a wee red target…ach, weel, I’m sure tha’ lads know what their’a dooin.

I meself am lookin’ forward tae tha Haggis Eating competition on Friday afternoon a’ 5:15 PM on tha’ Highland Field, which ma sources tell me has reached its capacity in terms o’ registration, w’ a few o’ tha previous year’s champions returnin’ tae defend their titles! It should be a gory and disgustin’ competition, w’ twenty-six o’ tha’ elusive Haggis buggers being hunted doon’ an’ cooked for our valiant competitor’s! A competition fer the record books, an’ tha’s fer sure!

So, as fer some finer details concernin’ some of tha’ more popular aspects of tha’ festival:
-Tha’ “Showing of tha’ Tartan Parade” kicks off a’ 11:30 AM on Saturday mornin’. Tha’ parade is set ta begin a’ New St and Church St, and than proceed New St. ta’ Broad St., a left on Broad ta’ Main St. an’ then a left on Main right doon ta tha’ Highland Field.

-Tha’on-line registration fer tha’ Celtic Classic 5K race is over, but those still lookin’ ta enter can register at tha’ Start line on Saturday mornin’. Registration begins a’ 7 AM.

-Anyone wishin’ ta’ volunteer (always a fun time!) can sign up online through this link:
Or take yer’self over ta’ the Spring St. information booth, an’ they will help ya.

-Tha’ Celtic Quest program ha’ been expanded an’ improved upon! All of tha’ booths will now be located in the “Ring of Celtic Heritage” near the Heritage stage. Families an’ tha young at heart can learn aboot the seven Celtic nations while craftin’ an’ participating in some excitin’ activities.

-20th Anniversary pins are available fer sale at tha’ Souvenir tent! Along with “glow in tha’ dark” beer mugs an’ other collectible items!

See you there!

Saturday, July 21

One Scot, please!

Hello Angus,

I am interested in meeting a handsome Scot. Where is the best place to meet them? Is there a Scottish/Celtic gathering place anywhere in Eastern PA where these rare creatures congregate?


Dear Swooner,
Weel, I must say I’ve no ever tried to meet handsome Scotsmen meself, but I imagine ye’ll do well by frequenting events an’ establishments havin’ ta do wi’ Scotland. So, that’s tha Pipe Band competitions (generally featuring a large congregation of the so called creatures), tha Highland Games (verra large Scotsmen ta be found at these), Celtic festivals (for the musician types), and o’course tha local pub/brewery establishment which features football (Soccer) and other fine Celtic sports on the telly, where all types of tha rare-breed can be found.

Ye can find out where the Pipe Bands will be competing next by visitin’, or tha Eastern United States Pipe Band Association’s website. They list in their events page all of tha Pipe Band related events happening in the Eastern United States. Ta find the lads competin’ in the Highland Games, visit tha North American Scottish Games Athletics site: On tha site is a message board, where ye can introduce yerself to tha lads along with tha locations of where they’ll be competin’ next. As for Celtic festivals, ye canna go wrong by comin’ to tha Celtic Classic, the largest Highland Games and Festival in North America, what wi’ all tha attractions for Scotsmen (Pipe Bands, Highland Games, and beer) in one place, yer bound to run into many o’ the creatures.

I’d make an offer ta take ye out meself, on a guid day I’ve been told I’m quite handsome…but I’m thinkin’ me lady friend would have some strong objections. Ah, weel.

Guid luck ta ye!

Wednesday, April 18

I'll have a pint of 70, please...

Dear Angus,

What does it mean when a person ordering a beer asks for a pint of 60? I'm familiar with the term pint, but become confused with the use of the number 60. Is this some kind of secret code?


Dear Baffled,
The number used when ordering a pint stems from the old form of beer classification. Shillings of duty (tha' British fer tax) were payable on each barrel of beer/ale. Tha' stronger tha' ale, tha' higher tha' duty. Today this system is purely fer tha' character indication of the beer/ale, rather than tha' amount of duty ta be paid. 60 shilling is a light beer, 70 shilling t'was a heavy, an' 80 shilling t'was an export. Today tha' word 'shilling' is implied rather than stated, as in, "Twa pints o' tha' 80, please!"


Tuesday, April 3

Oh, have a Pint Already.

Dear Angus,
Can you please tell me why the Celtic people are known for drinking? I’ve been challenged many times to down pint after pint, because my friends believe that since I’m Irish I should be able to. I’m not, just so you know! Please help.

Dear Please Drink,
Weel, to explain the Celtic heritage of drinking mass quantities of ale, beer, and whiskey would take much explanation of stereotyping, and a bit of mudslinging, suffice to say- ye’re stuck with it. Ta make ye feel a bit better about takin drink though, I can leave ye with this little ditty:
When we drink, we get drunk.
When we get drunk, we sleep.
When we sleep, we commit no sins.
When we commit no sins, we go to heaven.
So, let’s all get drunk, and go to heaven!

I hope this has been a help to ye,


Scottish influence on the New World

Dear Angus,
My friend claims that the Scottish had little influence in getting the New World established, in comparison to the English or even the Irish! Can you please help me correct her?

Dear Proudly Scottish,
Well ye can tell your confused friend that ye are jestly proud of the Scottish heritage! The Scots an invaluable addition to the developing the new world! Their past experience of working in the harsh conditions of rural Scotland, combined with their hard-working Presbyterian upbringing, made them an ideal people to help build America in its formative years. The Scottish emigrants of the 18th Century were an educated group due to the Scottish Reformation, which had stressed the need for education, allowing every Scot the ability to read the bible. Scots arriving in the New World soon established universities, colleges and other educational establishments such as Princeton University During the mid-17th Century Scottish medical establishments were second to none. Many recipients of these teachings came to America, where their influence can be seen to this day! Why it’s known that in 1775 there were 3,500 people practicing medicine in the US, though only 350 or 400 actually held a medical degree. Most of those holding degrees had been educated in Scotland.
So there ye have a few facts to share with ye’r friend and I dare her to say that education and medicine were not valuable additions to the colonies!


Tuesday, March 20

The Judging of the Pipe Bands

Dear Angus,
I have been a big fan of the pipe band competition at Celtic Classic for several years now and would like to know how they are judged. After the first two or three, I usually can’t tell the different bands apart, let alone judge which is the best!


Dear Challenged,
By the time the last band marches off the field, ye’re joined by many in your confusion. Just pick out the best looking legs of each band and focus on them to help ye distinguish just who is playing. As for the judging, our professionals at the Celtic Classic inform me that the pipe bands are judged for several things, including attack (a nice, neat start-up), tone/tuning (quality of sound), expression (tempo, rhythm and duration of musical notes), pitch (sharpness or flatness), execution (how clean the playing is), unison (do they sound like one piper; or one drummer?) and ensemble (how well do they complement each other?). So, jest as we are listening for the most put together band, so are they!
Guid luck, and I hope ye remembered ta bring ye’re earplugs.


Wednesday, March 7

Best Men's Legs in a Kilt Contest!

Hosted by me guid friends of Donegal Square a "Best Men's Legs in a Kilt Contest" will be occurrin' on Saturday, March 17th at 2PM, outside of their shop located on the corner of Main and Walnut St's in the fair town of Bethlehem, PA 18018.

Ye'll need to register by goin' inta Donegal Square or by registerin' through e-mail: Include yer name, address, an phone number. Unfortunately, this contest is open ta' the lads only, sorry lassies.

Ye must be wearin' a kilt (at least) when competin' and register before noon on March 17th- or if'n ye be doin' it through the e-mail, by 9PM on March 15th. Prizes te be given for the first three best legs.

What is the difference between Gaelic and Erse?

Dear Angus,
What is the difference between Gaelic and Erse? I’m curious about what I do not understand.
Thank you,

Dear Changed,
Weel, to explain the difference between Gaelic and Erse ye’ll be needin a bit o’ a convoluted explanation involving the development of languages in the British Isles.

Ye see ma dear, before English began the people inhabiting the British Isles didna spake English, but different Celtic languages. The modern forms of these languages are Welsh, Scots Gaelic, Irish, and Breton, as well as the dead languages of Cornish and Manx. These Celtic languages are grouped inta three different subfamilies, ye ken? And one of the groups is Giodelic (the other two being Continental and Brythonic), to which Irish (also called Irish Gaelic), Scots Gaelic, and Manx belong.

All the modern Giodelic tongues are descendants of the ancient Celtic speech of Ireland, Gaelic. Gaelic began to reach Scotland in the late 5th century A.D., when it was brought by the Irish invaders, and in Scotland the Gaelic language was called “Irish” or “Erse” (different spellings of the same word). For a time the only language on the British Isles was Gaelic, and there was no difference between Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic. However, the Norsemen (Vikings) and Saxons invaded and migrated to Britain from Europe bringing their Germanic languages. The varieties from this mixture of Gaelic and Norse in England came ta be called “English” and in Scotland they came ta be known as “Scots” around the 13th century. So, a chief difference between Scots Gaelic and Irish Gaelic results from the substantial Norse influence on the former, d’ye see?

And so to answer ye’re question, the term Erse is used as a synonym for Irish and sometimes even for Scots Gaelic, and the difference between the two is that Erse is defined as the Goidelic language of Ireland, ye see, while Gaelic is considered to be the Giodelic language of Scotland. Hope this was some help t’ye, and if’n ye’re interested in learning more about Gaelic, sign up for the Gaelic language classes sponsored by the Celtic Cultural Alliance.


Pronounce it right, ye daft announcers!

Dear Angus,
Why is Celtic pronounced with a hard “K” in every case, except when referencing the Boston basketball team, when it’s pronounced with an “S” sound?

Dear What’s Up,
Och, well na didna ye be askin’ one of the most controversial questions out there? I reckon it’s sucha mystery because people have forgotten that til a few years ago, Celtic was pronounced SELL-tick.

Ye see my dear, the first use of a word resembling the word “Celt” was by Greek chroniclers as early as 600CE. The Greek word was ‘Keltoi’, meaning ‘stranger’ or ‘hidden people’ -probably due to the feisty early Celts using ambushin’ techniques when fighting- and its not till much later, in the 1700’s, do people speakin’ French and Latin start usin’ the word ‘Celt’. So, technically I believe the word, being translated into English from French and Latin, like many words startin’ with a “ce-” in English, should be pronounced SELL-tick.

However, if ye want to be takin’ seriously by the in-the-know-crowd these days, ye’ll be pronouncin’ the word KELL-tick. It’s all in the numbers, ye ken? Right now it is correct te be pronouncing Celtic, “KELL-tick,” because enough people have been doing it, and will be continuing to do it.

The reason the Boston Celtics pronounce their name SELL-tick is not because they were founded by ignorant folk who didn’t know any better, but because they were named during a time when people used SELL-tick.

The end result of all of this is that “Celtic” ought, according te the rules of the English language, te be pronounced SELL-tick, but because so many pronounce it KELL-tick, that is also a correct pronunciation. To be leavin’ ye with a wee mantra te be sayin’ :

“Anyone who says “Celtic” is not pronounced SELL-tick is wrong; so is anyone who says it is not pronounced KELL-tick.”

I hope this has been a help to ye,

Is Haggis made from old hags?

Dear Angus,
Is it true that Haggis made from old hags?

My Dear Lassie,
Ah, weel no, actually. The ingredients to Haggis have very little ta do with auld hags, although I must admit my grannie Grisel makes a fine haggis indeed.

Ye’ll be needin’ the recipe then for haggis, I suppose? Just didna go spreadin’ it around though, as this is the auld besom’s prize-winning, absolutely-secret recipe for the Haggis, and she’d have me head if’n she knew I was tellin’ it ta strange females.

I wish you luck w’it,

Grannie Grisel’s Haggis

1 sheep’s stomach bag plus the pluck (lights, liver and heart)
1lb Lean mutton
6 oz Fine oatmeal
8 oz Shredded suet
2 large onions, chopped

Salt and pepper about ¼ pint beef stock. Soak the stomach bag in salted water overnight. Place the pluck (lights, liver and heart) in a saucepan with the windpipe hanging over the edge. Cover with water and boil for 1 ½ hours. Impurities will pass out through the windpipe and it is advisable to place a basin under it to catch any drips. Drain well and cool. Remove the windpipe and any gristle or skin. Mince the liver and heart with the mutton (Add some of the lights before mincing if you wish.). Toast the oatmeal gently until pale golden brown and crisp. Combine with minced mixture, suet and onion. Season well and add sufficient stock to moisten well. Pack into the stomach bag, filling it just over half-full as the stuffing will swell during cooking. Sew up the bag tightly or secure each end with string. Put an upturned plate in the base of a saucepan of boiling water, stand the haggis on this and bring back to the boil. Prick the haggis all over with a large needle to avoid bursting and boil steadily for 3 to 4 hours. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

The Wearin' of tha Kilt: advice for tha newbies.

Dear Angus,
Is there a way to properly handle the wearing of a kilt? I don’t want to be shocking any ladies. Thank you!

Dear Newbie,
As any guid, sensible lassie will be telling ye, the wearing of a kilt will na be shocking them, but rather drawing them like bees to a flower. On the other hand, there are certain things men should keep in mind to avoid offending the sensibilities of some spectators:

1. Walk, don’t run. If’n ye must walk quickly, keep both hands on ye’r sporran (ye should also be wearing one of these…) ta keep ye’re kilt from flying up.

2. Do not stoop, crouch or squat to pick up anything from the floor. Have a friend wearing trousers do it for ye. If ye didna have any friends, kick the object to a secluded place before retrieving it.

3. Didna wear shiny new shoes or stand near any reflective surfaces such as puddles. Dull ye’re shoes a little (perhaps with mud) or wear spats like the trend setter that ye are.

4. Hula or Limbo dancing in a kilt at anytime is no a guid idea.

5. Didna forget that ye’re wearin’ a kilt and no’ trousers. Keep ye’re legs together, man! Especially when seated.

6. And finally, avoid all questions concerning wha’s under ye’re kilt and didna go makin’ offers ta show the questioner the answer to their questions.

I must say I’ve no had much trouble with my kilt, but then I’ve been wearing one since I was a wee laddie, and can still hear the lectures about proper kilt wearin’ from my mother and aunties. Just observe these simple rules and ye’ll be fine.