Thursday, 11 January 2018

Symbolic Gestures: The Quaich Ceremony


A Quaich (pronounced kwaich) is the old Scots word for a loving cup, and the giving of a quaich was a way of welcoming guests. 

Sharing a quaich was a sign of trust: because it was offered and taken with both hands, neither host nor guest could hold a weapon at the same time. Sharing the drink was also a guarantee the contents hadn't been poisoned! 

In today’s slightly less suspicious world, drinking from the same cup is a still a symbol of trust, and because the quaich is still 'the cup of welcome', drinking from it can also be seen as a way of welcoming the bride and groom into each other’s family too.

Traditionally made of wood, today quaichs are more usually made from silver, and they've been part of Scottish weddings since the late 16th century, when King James VI of Scotland gave his bride, Princess Anne of Denmark, a quaich as a wedding present.



You might want to commission one, and have it engraved, as Glenn and Freddie did for their wedding at Dundas Castle last December.


Symbolic Gestures: The Candle Ceremony


The lighting of candles can convey more than one kind of meaning. It can be a way of symbolising the coming together of two individuals in the unity of marriage, and it can also be a way to remember the people we love who cannot be with us at this important moment.

There are three candles in the ‘Unity Candle’ ritual. The first two are usually tall and slim, while the third is normally a larger and thicker candle, symbolizing the marriage. 

Each partner lights a single candle at the start of the ceremony, and then when they have been pronounced husband and wife, they use those two candles to jointly light the third.


The most usual other form of candle ritual is when a candle or candles are lit in memory of departed family or friends. This is usually followed by a short period of quiet contemplation.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Let's do lunch...

I missed the official Chaplaincy lunch this Christmas, but to make up for it, Bulletin, the University's Staff Magazine, treated me to lunch with one of my chaplaincy colleagues, Irene Cotugno, who is the Baha'i Belief Contact.


The Baha'i faith originated in Persia at the end of the 19th century, and it has three core beliefs: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity. Ever since it began, it's been persecuted, and today being a Baha'i in Iran is likely to land you in prison.

Despite that, as the BBC will tell youBaha'i is the most widespread world faith after Christianity. Perhaps more surprisingly, the Baha'i faith first came to Scotland at the invitation of Mrs. Jane Whyte, who was the wife of the then Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. 

Mrs. Whyte actually became the first Scottish Bahá’í - quite how that was viewed by her husband and his co-religionists history does not record, but it should be a lesson in tolerance of diversity to us all.

As you might guess from her name, Irene is not from Scotland, but you can learn a bit more about her in the Bulletin article which you can find (with a bit of scrolling) here.

Jade and Michael's Humanist Wedding at The Cowshed in Crail

Jade and Michael did a lovely thing in their very relaxed and informal ceremony at The Cowshed . They asked their parents and gran...