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Popular Superstitions of the Highlands
Christenings


When we sit bowsing at the nappy,
And getting fu’ and unco happy,
We think not on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps, an’ stiles."

Burns.

HAVING travelled over the prominent features which distinguish

public annual festivities in the Highlands of Scotland, we shall now briefly direct the reader's attention to those particular occasions which only interest private circles of friends; and of all these it may be said, that the birth and christening of a child forrms one of the most pleasant and important. The fond parent, filled with those visionary hopes and expectations which the imagination is so apt to conceive as the portion of those objects most dear to us, fancies he beholds in his new offspring the future hero or statesman, whose fragile hand may be destined to wield the sword of a general or the pen of a statesman. Such is the impression of the Highland parent in particular—an impression in which he is perhaps confirmed by superior authority. The great utility and comfort derived from having the assistance of those wise people, whose experience and judgment enable them to discover those great destinies in an infant, is abundantly apparent; and of this capacity most of the Highland matrons are possessed. It is no doubt this weighty consideration that induces every honest woman to have her own junto of matron counsellors, whose presence is as indispensable on the occasion of an accouchement as that of the accoucheur. If the offspring is a son, it is likely those sage physiognomists will already trace in his infantile lineaments clear signs of that future greatness which he is destined some happy day to display, as well as the striking resemblance he bears to his father and mother. The greatness of such a blessing as this they never fail to impress upon the overjoyed father, (though, by the bye, he may have had too many of those blessings before,) who is thus induced cheerfully to devote more of his little property than he can well afford, to give the occasion its deserved eclat. Filled with pleasure, elated with hope, Highland hospitality has no bounds—a score of lives are sacrificed at the shrine of festivity, and all the neighbours and kinsmen invited to the christening. The day arrived, the little great man destined to grace some name is arrayed in his robes of state, and confided to the care of the happy sponsors, who, (should the parson not attend the feast,) together with the company present, will proceed with him to the parsonage, to receive the ordinance of baptism. On their return, the guests assembled will pledge the health of their host and the Bonheen, or the sick wife, in overflowing bumpers—not forgetting young Donald, who, "mayhe thrive," every body praises for a fine
child.

The seating and tables being next sorted in some snug place, the feast commences with a course of savoury soup, which is pronounced good by all. A succeeding course of broth is still better; and a third still better than the second. Mutton and beef follow, each good in its kind. Plenty of fowls, equally delicious, are next ushered in, calling forth the unqualified praise of the guests, who, upon the whole, pronounce the banquet the most luxurious which they have seen for a long time before. The desert once dispatched, the flowing bowl succeeds, and the rafters are made again to resound. to the healths of the young hero and his parents. A long catalogue of those toasts and sentiments most congenial to the feelings of the company, are next drank with the greatest glee; and bowl after bowl is speedily drained "to friendship’s growth," the effects of which bespeak themselves in the aspect of the company.

Enveloped in a cloud of tobacco-smoke, in one corner a hamlet politician is retailing to his half-attentive neighbour the various news of the day. Another guest is as warmly engaged in the praise of his wife, his horses, or his cattle; and another is eagerly soliciting attention to his improved mode of ploughing his ground, sowing his turnips, and planting his potatoes. At length, when the house begins to revolve, each thinks it time to withdraw. The officious mid-wife then comes to the door, full of kind inquuiries, if each has got his own plaid, bonnet, and staff; and being rewarded for her attention by the customary douceur, she wishes them all a good night and a pleasant journey.


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