DCSIMG

Scottish word of the week: Blackening

A modern-day Blackening

A modern-day Blackening

  • by STEPHEN EMERSON
 

IT sounds like a form of medieval torture but Blackenings, which were once carried out to ward off evil spirits before a marriage, still go on today in some parts of Scotland,

The prenuptial ritual, normally carried out the day before a wedding, sees the future bride or bridegroom seized by friends and covered in soot, treacle, flour and feathers.

In past times the victim or victims would be loaded onto a cart and paraded around the town however today, when Blackenings are carried out notably in Orkney, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Fife, they are put on top of a pick up truck and driven around to the sound of horns and claxons.

The victim is usually rendered incapable through alcohol throughout and will likely end up tied to a lamp post or thrown into the shallow sea.

Blackenings are closely related to the Penny Bridal ritual where donations would be made towards the cost of the wedding feast.

The Bride would be taken to a room where here friends would wash her feet in water in which a long-married woman had dropped her wedding ring in.

The bridegroom would then be grabbed by the bride’s friends and have his legs blackened with coal.

 

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