The day’s wird is: Saut

Saut in Scots is ‘salt’ in English and was an essential ingredient in many customs and rituals across Scotland.  

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Photograph by Alvimann at Morguefile.com


In Children:

For Protection and Good Luck:
For instance, an unbaptized baby could be kept safe by placing a little saut or sugar in the infant’s mouth and then wishing it well.  This was thought to keep evil spirits away before the baby received a Christian baptism.
 
Source: p.14 – Bennett, M. (1992) Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave. Edinburgh: Polygon.

To Remove the Ill E’e (Evil Eye):
The Rev James Napier, living near Glasgow in 1879, remembers a ritual being performed on him when he was afflicted by poor health (dwining) in boyhood. It was thought to be caused by the Ill E’e (Evil Eye). He was made to sit in front of a roaring fire while an old ‘skilly’ woman dissolved a silver sixpence’s worth of saut in a tablespoon filled with water.  His feet and hands were then washed with the solution and he was made to taste it three times. Then, with a moistened forefinger, the ‘skilly’ drew a line across his brow in an act called ‘scoring aboon the breath’.  Finally, the ‘skilly’ flung the remainder of the solution into the back of the coals while saying ‘Guid preserve frae a’ skaith’.  

Source: p.16 – Bennett, M. (1992) Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave. Edinburgh: Polygon.

In Adults:

For Good Luck:
Just before her wedding day, a bride’s chamberpot, or ‘chanty’, was filled with saut and she was made to sit it on it for good luck.  

Source: pp.110 & 117 – Bennett, M. (1992) Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave. Edinburgh: Polygon.

To Protect Corpses:
A plate of saut would be placed on the chest of a corpse to prevent it from swelling and it was thought that would stop evil spirits, or the devil, from entering the body.  Sin Eaters, for money, would then place a slice of bread on the salt and eat it to absorb all the ‘sins’ of the deceased.

Source: pp.190, 192, 204, & 234 – Bennett, M. (1992) Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave. Edinburgh: Polygon.

With Food at a Wake:
In 1977, D. Douglas of Niddrie remembers having ‘tatties and dip’ at a wake.  He remembers a table piled with cooked potatoes alongside plates of salt for dipping them into.

Source: p.241 – Bennett, M. (1992) Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave. Edinburgh: Polygon.

With Animals:

Good Luck:

If a cow was moved to a new farm, it would have salt thrown over it for good luck.

Source: Dictionary of the Scots Language


Bit kin ye yaise thon in a sentence?

‘Damnit, Betty. Ye’ve damn near a fou tub ae saut oan yer tatties the nicht!’
Source: Gramps Lane
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