Some of the things to know about Scottish stereotypes
Scotland is one of those nations with a big personality. We proudly display our heritage and our preferences visibly to outsiders. This makes us an easy candidate to build stereotypes around so here’s my view on Scottish stereotypes….and their accuracy.
Tartans and kilts
The design of tartans represent the family lineage of the wearer. The idea being that Scots today wear the same tartan patterns as their ancestors did in centuries past. Not everyone has to wear their family tartan of course, but that is the tradition.
Kilts are super-cool skirts for Scottish men. Given my travel blog name you’ll probably have guessed I’m pretty pro-kilts. Worn at weddings, ceilidhs (raucous traditional Scottish dancing events), football games or just for a really fun night out they are a great way to proudly and loudly show off Scottish heritage. And, yes, underwear is completely out of the question for a true Scot, regardless of the temperature.
We lose at everything. Well, no, that’s not quite true but we do lose with alarming regularity when it comes to team sports in particular. Football is the national sport and brings out the best and the worst in us. Fiercely passionate, this can sometimes overcome our supporters in rivalries. Celtic vs Rangers has always been a legendary battle and is connected to Catholic vs Protestant pasts. It is not always friendly unfortunately. The reputation of the Tartan Army (Scottish national supporters) has however always been magnificent and when we travel, Scottish fans tend to be regarded as fun and friendly rogues.
We are also particularly big on rugby and, of course, golf. We do produce more than our fair share of great athletes such as Andy Murray, Sir Chris Hoy and Michael Jamieson.
Haggis is indeed the national dish and yes we really do eat it on a semi-regualar basis. Yes it is indeed a sheep’s stomach and the contents are better not known. But it does in fact taste fantastic and I thoroughly recommend it – amongst many other top Scotland travel tips.
As a fitting tribute to the huge influence of India and Pakistan on our country, curries have become as common as pizza in Italy on a Scottish night out. Nothing beats a Glasgow curry, ask me for details any time. Alternatively, get yourself a good fish supper. Haddock or cod, doused in salt and vinegar, is often the perfect end to a busy day or a boozy night. Scotland also has some of the world’s finest fish and seafood.
The famous Scottish stereotype that we eat deep fried Mars is largely nonsense, they are mainly for the tourists. I’ve never eaten one or seen one being eaten.
The Scottish stereotype that we drink a lot is….bang on. We don’t all like whisky however. We import all of the world’s best beers but Tennents is the cheapest local brew. It serves as the default lager of choice in most bars, although connoisseurs would probably tend to conclude that it is not the nicest pint in the world. Also look out for the rise of craft beers and IPA (India Pale Ale) in some of the more traditional pubs and inns.
When it comes to the ‘water of life’, yes visitors will not have to look far to find a good single malt. Some of the top distilleries (and there are many) include: Talisker, Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich, Macallan, Ardbeg and Laphroaig. If you are a super-knowledgable whisky drinker (or just want to appear to be one) make yours a single malt either neat or with a little spring water.
Irn Bru is our non-alcoholic national drink. Radioactive orange in colour, your teeth will thank you not to get addicted to it.
Red (or ginger if you are being cruel) hair is more common here than almost anywhere but it is one of the Scottish stereotypes that has been overhyped. The idea that 90% of Scots have red hair is ridiculous and I would put the figure at closer to 10%. What is true though is Scots’ aversion to the sun’s rays! Our pale skin does not respond well and results in an awful lot of red faces on the rare occasions that the big ball in the sky drops by. In fact, sunny days have taken on national holiday status, when we all lean from windows and proclaim “Taps aff!” to anyone who’ll listen.
Possibly Scotland’s most famous ever son. The poet’s mark is seen all over the world and Burns’ Suppers on the 25th of January every year are a salute to his work. Traditionally a haggis is carved and feasted on by hungry, kilted devotees and drinking goes on long into the night.
Scots don’t generally know all the words to every Burns poem, but we are taught it in schools and there are competitions to find the most vocal and skilled reciters of his work. For fans of the Bard, Ayrshire is the place for you where you can visit several top Burns-related attractions.
Loch Ness monster
This is the legendary snake/dragon/dinosaur type beast that terrorises one of Scotland’s most beautiful spots. Does Nessie exist? Probably not, but who really knows? He/She/It could fund the country’s economy on his/her/its own with the right marketing I suspect. Head up to Loch Ness with your binoculars and see if you get lucky/unlucky!
Our indisputable resident animals do include red deer, golden eagles, otters, whales and dolphins. Which is not bad.
What Scottish stereotypes have I missed? Did you previously believe that a haggis was an actual animal with wings? Tell us all about it.