Thursday, July 7, 2011

Raise The Clans

Tonight marks the beginning of the 56th Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games. The opening ceremony is dramatic and symbolic and beautiful, and I can hardly wait! It is called the "Raising of the Clans," and long ago it was an appeal to support a cause or ideal -- usually to unite the clans for battle. Modern times have altered its purpose, but the raising of the clans is an important part of many Highland games.

At Grandfather Mountain, the ceremony begins after dark. A representative from each of the clans/families in attendance bears a torch, and these representatives assemble on the field in such a way as to form a St. Andrew's Cross -- a living cross of light. In turn, each clan is called, and its representative comes forward to say a few words; most often the clan motto is recited and perhaps a few other things are said, but always, always, they express their pride in being involved in this magnificent gathering.

Off to one side, high atop an observation tower, a lone piper stands. As the torches burn brightly against the night sky, he plays, and the effect is so stirring as to bring tears to many eyes.

What a beautiful way to celebrate family and heritage! Makes me proud to be a Scot! "From the Isles' northenmost realm came the Scot, bred with the stoutest will, the canniest wit, and the bravest heart. For reasons dire did Scots forsake kin and kith and set across the face of the earth to fend for themselves, and in the process, theiy built nations, empires, and new worlds ... A Scot is a Scot, even unto an hundred generations." (Copied from Scotland Rising, Ltd.)