September 7 – Braemar Gathering in Scotland

Posted on September 7, 2013

The royals whooping it up at Braemar!
The Games have been happening in Braemar the first Saturday of September for a long time now—about a thousand years! Ever since Queen Victoria's time, it has been tradition for the British Royal Family to patronize the games. Large crowds have attended – partly to see the king or queen, and of course partly to see Highland dancing and piping, along with competitors racing, leaping, and participating in wonderful events such as the tug-of-war, the sack race, and (my personal favorite) the Throwing of Heavy Things.

The caber “toss” is when men compete to see who can throw long, heavy wooden poles the farthest. Basically, it should be called “giant telephone-pole hurl.” The caber tends to be more than 19 feet (almost 6 m) long and weighs about 175 pounds (79 kg)!

The hammer throw is another feat of strength, but it has spread all over the world and even to the Olympics, joining the shot-put, javelin throw, and discus throw as part of track and field. The metal hammer weighs 16 pounds (more than 7 kg) and is on a rod or chain.

My question is, when can we get the caber toss into the Olympics? I'd like to see that; wouldn't you?

Braemar is a village in Aberdeenshire, in the Highlands, in Scotland, in Great Britain, in the United Kingdom, in the European Union! That's a lot of complexity—let's break it down:

  • Braemar used to be called “Bridge End” in Gaelic. This village is located on the River Dee.
  • Aberdeenshire is one of the 32 councils in Scotland. A council is a bit like a county in the U.S.
  • The Highlands is the name for a historical region, the northwest part of Scotland (as opposed to the Lowlands to the south and east). As you might guess, it is a mountainous region. The population is low for the amount of land area (we say it the population is sparse, not dense)—and this is partly because the British government oppressed Highland clans and way of life, and the Gaelic language spoken in the region, for several centuries. For example, in the mid 1700s, laws were passed outlawing Highland customs and forbidding Highlanders to have weapons. (That's one reason why Highlanders came up with sports such as the hammer throw—they couldn't have weapons, but they could have sports equipment that would make good weapons, if a fight ever broke out.) There was also a horrible time of forced evictions as the Highlands were converted to sheep-based agriculture with just a relatively few hereditary landowners.
  • Scotland is a country that used to be independent (and may be some day again) but is now a part of the U.K. Scotland still has a separate legal system and parliament for local laws (but not foreign affairs).
  • Great Britain is the largest of the British isles. Most of the landmass of Scotland, England, and Wales is on this island.
  • The proper name for the U.K. is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
  • The U.K. belongs to a rather loose group of 28 European nations that have banded together to help each other economically and politically. Most E.U. Nations use the Euro as their money, but the United Kingdom is still using the pound sterling as its currency.

For more on Scotland, check out this and this other earlier posts! And check out the image gallery of the photographer Ian Cameron.

Also on this date:

Plan Ahead!

And here are my Pinterest pages on October holidaysOctober birthdays, and historical anniversaries in October.

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