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UNESCO Cultural Heritage bid for Hogmanay, tartan and haggis making

By David Porter

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The public are being encouraged to propose festive traditions, such as Hogmanay and Pantomime for formal recognition alongside other mainstays of UK culture.

Communities across Scotland will be able to nominate their most cherished traditions to be included in a new register of cultural heritage in the UK.

Festive favourites, such as pantomime, Hogmanay and pagan Yuletide traditions could all be formally recognised.

Milnes Primary School pupils Ava Brook gets ready to tuck into her Haggis, Neeps and Tatties..Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Milnes Primary School pupils Ava Brook gets ready to tuck into her Haggis, Neeps and Tatties..Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

Seasonal celebrations taking place at St Andrew’s Day, Burns Night, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Up Helly Aa in the Shetlands could also be included.

Traditions that are central to Scottish culture, identity and communities, from Highland dancing to bagpipe playing, cèilidhs and commons riding are expected to also be put forward for a UK-wide official inventory.

Artisanal crafts such as kilt-making, tweed-weaving and the art of making the perfect haggis, together with the practitioners of these traditions, will also be considered.

The selected Scottish traditions will sit alongside valued traditions from across the rest of the UK, from the male voice choirs of the Welsh Valleys to cheese-rolling and the art of basket-weaving.

It comes as the UK Government has confirmed its intention to ratify the 2003 UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which seeks to protect the crafts, practices, and traditions which are recognised as being key part of national life and providing a sense of identity to communities.

These practices are often also referred to as ‘intangible cultural heritage’ or ‘living heritage’ and are inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants.

Arts and Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “The UK is rich in traditions which have been passed down from generation to generation, and so many of those which are best known around the world – from bagpipe-playing to the Highland games – are Scottish.

“These crafts, customs, and celebrations have helped to shape our communities and bring people together, who continue to shape them in turn.

“By ratifying this Convention, we will be able to celebrate treasured traditions from every corner of the country, support the people who practise them, and ensure that they are passed down for future generations to enjoy.”

By ratifying the Convention, the UK Government will be able to recognise Scotland’s most important crafts and traditions in the same way as we have considered physical heritage sites such as New Lanark, Edinburgh Old Town, and the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.

UK Government minister for Scotland, John Lamont, said: “Hogmanay, Burns Night and ceilidh dancing are Scottish traditions celebrated across the world and now we will be able to give them recognition alongside those from around the UK as part of this international convention.

“I encourage communities across the country to nominate their local traditions that will be ratified and help to preserve them for generations to come.”

As intangible cultural heritage can only be considered as such when it is recognised by the communities, groups or individuals that create, maintain and share it, it will be these groups and people from across Scotland who will be able to nominate the UK’s favourite traditions to be formally recognised.

A public consultation is now seeking the public’s views on the UK Government’s proposed approach to implementing the Convention across the UK to safeguard valued traditions.

This will include the approach to how people will be able to nominate traditions, how they will be adjudicated, and any criteria that the nominated practices will need to meet before they are considered.

The UK Government has been working closely with the Devolved Administrations, the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories in the run up to this decision and will continue to do so in order to implement the Convention and collate the UK-wide inventory, which is expected to launch for nominations next year.

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