19 January 2020 – Haggis Hunting

Today was the Selkirk Haggis Hunt. Every year, hundreds take to Selkirk Hill on the Scottish Borders to search for the ever elusive wild haggis. But as I’m on the South coast, I had to make do with paying homage to the Haggis Hunt by recreating it in my friends’ Matt and Javi’s back garden. And when I say homage, I mean a very fast and loose interpretation.

The original plan was to knit a whole load of mini haggis to hide around the garden, a bit like the Easter egg hunt I’d set them previous year. But then my eyes became too big for my stomach (which sadly is not unusual) and I thought I would try and reproduce many little Kelvingrove Haggis scoticus, pictured below, instead:

A Haggis specimen, Haggis scoticus, at the Glasgow Kelvingrove museum, next to a prepared specimen
Photo: Emoscopes

Reader, I was not successful.

Haggis brighthelmstonicus

And I only managed to make one. So when driving back from wassailing yesterday, and Susannah (who was also hunting today) made the suggestion that we hunt for potatoes instead, I won’t deny, I leapt on the idea.

The day dawned crisp, cold and blue skied. Armed with the bucketload of tatties and neeps curry I’d made for lunch (did I say fast and loose? I meant frankly profligate) and my haggis, I stopped at the corner shop, and upon buying a dozen tiny spuds, I headed for the boy’s place where I proceeded to hide the proxy haggis in amongst their shrubbery. 

There is something quite delightful about making my adult friends compete for root vegetables in the name of folklore. And Matt, Javi and Susannah rose to the occasion magnificently. Each armed with a bowl and a handful of black peppercorns to help lure the haggis into the open (pepper is to haggis as catnip is to cats) they strode into the green arena and went into battle. The hunt raged fierce and furious for at least five minutes before Matt was crowned the winner with a total of six haggis, Javi with four and Susannah with two. While Javi demanded a rematch, the rest of us returned indoors, scattering the remaining peppercorns behind us. But as the inevitable postprandial slump took hold, undaunted, we began discussing what our next adventure in folklore would be…

Disclaimer: No haggis were harmed in the making of today’s Everyday Lore post. Fraid the same can’t be said for the potatoes as last I heard, they were headed for the masher.


Resources

https://www.facebook.com/groups/520706748100301/

http://www.robertburns.org.uk/Assets/Documents/haggisarticle.pdf

http://www.myredwellies.co.uk/2015/01/hamish-haggis-crochet-pattern.html?m=1

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-is-haggis

https://www.instructables.com/id/Haggis-hunting/

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