Highland Folk Ways

Extract from “Highland Folk Ways” I.F.Grant

The reference to bees in red is of particular interest - has anyone come across this before?

The days of the week had their special taboos. I once began to make a list of the things which it was unlucky to do on certain days and found I was supplying myself with excellent pretexts for doing nothing. But the following are a few 'Do's' as well as 'Don'ts'. Monday was good for changing one's dwelling if one were moving from north to south, in spite of a general feeling that it was unlucky to approach one's new abode for the first time from the north. Tuesday was good for reaping and for marriage. If All Saints' Day fell on a Wednesday it portended general bad luck. Thursday, which is specially connected with St. Columba, was the best day in the week to begin things such as the setting up of a warp on a loom or the setting of eggs under a hen. It was also the best day in the week on which to cut one's nails. Friday was not a good day to begin anything; it was unlucky to cut nails or hair, to kill a sheep or to begin to cut the hay, for buying any- thing or for being buried. (But, per contra, Martin said that on Gigha this was the day preferred for funerals.) It was, however, lucky for planting, sowing and for making bargains. On Good Friday it was unlucky to do work that involved putting anything iron into the earth, such as a spade or plough, but sea-ware might be spread or work might be done with a wooden rake. Saturday was lucky for moving one's home if one were moving from south to north. It was unlucky to spin that night and there was a general feeling that it was not a good day to begin anything. Sunday, in Badenoch, was considered the best day to put on clean clothes and it was good to wash in running water.(2) A spring superstition was the catching of the first unfortunate bee to appear and imprisoning it in one's purse to bring about an increase of wealth. Mrs. Campbell mentions this superstition in South Uist. I remember, as a child, hearing the frantic buzzing of the poor bee when my nurse, who came from the Black Isle (Easter Ross), insisted on doing the same thing. (3)

(1) M. Martin, Western Islands, p. 177.

(2) A Goodrich Freer, The Outer Isles, p. 238. M. Marten, The Western Islands, p. 264. Lachlan Shaw, History of the Province of Moray, p. 147. Information kindly given me by Mrs. de Glehn.

(3) M. F. Shaw, Folk Music and Folk Song, p. 13.

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