Jean Collier column – Our friends across ‘the pond’ celebrate number of events in March

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

If the Lenten Season is sublime, Whuppity Scourie is definitely ridiculous!
So let me tell you about it. Whuppity Scourie is a rambunctious celebration held on March 1 by the young lads of Lanark in central Scotland. It’s a relic from the days when making a lot of noise was believed to frighten away the evil household spirits, when children whooped and screamed as they dived after the pennies thrown to them.
The people of Wales observe the arrival of Spring in a more sober fashion, honoring St. David, their patron saint, by tucking either a daffodil or leek (both regarded as national emblems) into their lapels or caps. St. David was a sixth century monk who devoted his life to preaching Christianity to the Welsh and founded a monastery on the west coast of Wales.
If you missed the 133rd Annual Westminster Kennel Club Show at Madison Square Garden in February, you may have caught the meeting of Crufts Kennel Club, held in Britain from March 5-8 every year to promote the rearing of happy, healthy dogs. The AKC’s greatest promoter was, of course, Chester Collier, a longtime network television producer, whose wisdom and devotion to the welfare of dogs shaped the American Kennel Club.
For the Jews, Purim, on March 10, is a very special day. The Old Testament Book of Esther is read inside the synagogue, amid lots of audience participation, while outside there is a carnival-like atmosphere, causing some people to liken Purim to the Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans on Shrove Tuesday.
In Britain, March 13 is devoted to “Comic Relief,” a charity organization founded in 1985 in response to the famine in Ethiopia. Every year, the day is marked by wearing a comical red nose ó not by the likes of you and me ó by youngsters at school and those in the world of entertainment. Since the charity was started, Comic Relief has raised more than Ł500 million.
In the middle of the month, two saints days follow in quick succession: St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 and St. Joseph’s on March 19 ó both remembered by devout Roman Catholics around the world.
St Patrick’s Day has come to be associated with everything Irish and green ó especially the shamrock, a symbol of good luck. But more importantly, March 17 is recognized as a traditional day for spiritual renewal and the offering of prayers for missionaries overseas.
The Feast of St. Joseph honors the Spouse of the Virgin Mary. As well as being celebrated in many Anglican and Lutheran Churches, March 19 is honored by certain religious orders, individuals, schools and parishes bearing the name of Joseph. It is also looked on as Father’s Day in some Catholic countries.
This period overlaps a little-known Scottish festival called St. Anza, which takes place this year from March 18-22 and is dedicated to poetry. Founded only 20 years ago, it is held in St. Andrew’s, Scotland’s oldest university town and the site of the world-famous golf course. The festival is an opportunity to enjoy a wide variety of poetry, hear world-class poets reading in unusual and atmospheric venues and to experience a wide range of performances of music, film, dance and poetry working in harmony to celebrate poetry in all of its many forms.
While in Britain we know the fourth Sunday in Lent as Mothering Sunday, it is somewhat overshadowed by America’s Mothers’ Day in May. Over here, Mothering Sunday has been celebrated since the 15th century. It used to be called Refreshment Sunday because the rules for Lent could be relaxed in honour of Jesus’ Feeding of the Five Thousand.
Although folk in England, Scotland and Wales don’t mark the start of Daylight Saving Time until March 29, the American mainland (on a different latitude) has the benefit of longer days from March 8. During World War II, Britain kept Double Summer Time ó to give extra hours for sowing and harvesting crops.
Lastly, in the United States, March 30 has been set aside as National Doctors’ day to commemorate the contribution made by those in the medical profession. And it’s to be hoped that in due course, Britain will follow suit.
So, having reached the end of March, we expect to see the month which came in “like a lion” slip quietly away “like a lamb,” a reference to the Mad March Winds.
Jean and her husband, retired minister Frank Collier, retired to their native Scotland after living several years in Rowan County.