Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

The myths and truths of Scotland’s most infamous animal: the haggis

by : 
CharisM

If you were to visit Glasgow’s Kelvingrove museum, you would see a high quality replica of Scotland’s legendary animal – the haggis. A rare species, the haggis are native to Scotland’s highlands. It is a mammal with many unusual features: its right and left legs are different lengths, enabling it to quickly scurry up and down steep cliffs. It is a fluffy animal whose fur is long and mane-like, which helps it survive the harsh winters of its habitat.

Haggis are delicious to eat. Their meat is traditionally minced with oatmeal and suet, complimented with mashed ‘tatties’ (potatoes) and ‘neeps’ (swede). It is a hearty meal best eaten on a winter’s day! No wonder it is traditionally served on Burns Night, which falls on January 25th, the coldest of Scotland’s months.

Little has been documented on the haggis. The Loch Ness Monster has always stolen the limelight as Scotland’s most important resident creature. The mysterious, reptilian character of the Loch perhaps has more allure and intrigue than the odd looking, small creature of the mountains.

Story telling and folklore have existed in Scotland for centuries. The impenetrable landscape has attracted tales of fascinating creatures. The mystery of the crags, mountains, lochs and rivers has inspired countless tales of mortality and mythology.

Humour is also a prominent Scottish characteristic. Be wary though, the Scots keep a very distinct sense of humour - the punchline revolves around acting in a deadly serious manner while ‘kidding on’ (joking). Although locals are friendly, best make sure you are not too gullible while in Scotland. Often tourists and foreigners leave the country convinced that something truly exists when really it’s just a bit of fun!

My advice to visitors would be: try eating some haggis, just don’t go looking for one in the wild!

Discussion

Are there any myths and legends about animals where you live?