In honor of the 42nd birthday (on 28th November) of my son Angus, who is a mixologist extraordinaire, I was going to ruminate on the origins of the word whisky, derived from either the Scots Gaelic usquebaugh or the rather lovelier Irish ditto uisgebeatha. But a combination of linguistic ill-discipline and serendipity led me otherwise, to the reminder that the winter dancing season has now begun back home in Scotland, and that all over the nation, from Lerwick to Berwick, from Dunnet Head to Gretna Green, Scots will be enjoying the delights of the ceilidh (pronounced caylee), and which originally signified
an evening visit, a friendly social call.
Today, and for the past hundred years or so, the word has come to mean
a session of traditional music, storytelling, or dancing
all of which is these days often augmented (and often greatly improved by being so) with ample quantities of usquebaugh. Such gatherings are a lot of fun: most birthdays, bar-mitzvahs and even the coming holidays tend to pale beside a full-blown Highland ceilidh, though their hangovers are seldom so memorable.