Gaelic and Celtic Customs
from the Hebrides and Beyond

Fada's Farsaing (Far and Wide) is a series of articles by Liam O Caiside in English but with Gaelic words and phrases interwoven in the text. The articles describe a wide range of Gaelic and Celtic customs. These pages were originally published in the "Scottish Radiance" e-magazine and have been reproduced here with the kind permission of the Scottish Radiance editor, Sharma Krauskopf.


The festival of St Michael was celebrated on September 29th. As the patron saint of sailors it is a very important festival in Scotland with its hundreds of fishermen. One of the important parts of the celebration was harvesting carrots which was usually done on the weekend before the festival. The carrot was a fertility symbol usually given from a woman to a man.

Another part of the celebration was to bake a Michael's Cake, which was made from oats, bere, and rye. The meal was moistened with milk from sheep and baked on a lambskin by the eldest daughter of the family. It was basted using a rooster feather with a batter of butter, eggs, and cream while it baked. Fruit, honey and caraway seeds were also added. If the cake would happen to break while being baked it was bad luck and the broken cake was thrown away. Crumbs from the cake were given to the sheep on St Michael Day.

In Uist a piece of dough, called the devil's dough, was toasted and thrown over the left shoulder to keep the devil away from the cattle.

A male lamb without a spot or blemish was killed for the feasting. A quarter of the lamb was given with a peck of meal, a quarter of a Bannock, a quarter of cheese and butter to the poor.

The Bannock was baked and eaten on St Michael's day and everyone in the house got a piece. Later scones made with flour and treacle or currants and caraway seeds were sometimes substituted for the Bannock.

The graphic here by Richard Webb, via Wikimedia, shows the ferry leaving Lochmaddy in North Uist.

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