A Traditional Scottish Toast

May the best ye've ever seen
Be the worst ye'll ever see
May a moose ne'er leave yer girnal
Wi' a tear drap in his e'e
May ye aye keep hale an' he'rty
Till ye're auld eneuch tae dee
May ye aye be jist as happy
As we wish ye aye tae be

In plain English (left) and Dutch (right) this reads:

  May the best you have ever seen
Be the worst you will ever see
May a mouse never leave your girnal
With a tear drop in his eye
May you always keep hale and hearty
Till you are old enough to die
May you always be just as happy
As we wish you always to be
      Moge het beste dat je ooit zag
Het slechtste zijn dat je ooit ziet
Moge een muis nooit je haverkist verlaten
Zonder een traan in z'n oog
Moge je altijd sterk en gezond blijven
Tot je oud genoeg bent om te sterven
Moge je altijd zo gelukkig zijn
Als we je wensen altijd te zijn

Here "hale and hearty" means strong and healthy.
A "girnal" is -- with thanks to Liliane Colpaert -- a storage chest for meal (oats and the like) placed in the kitchen, and which looks a bit like this (using my very poor sketching abilities):
My Scottish dictionary ("The pocket Scots dictorary", Chambers, 1988,1995) has as translation for "girnal" as well as for "garnel" ['g' as in 'get'] also 'granary, storehouse', but adds that this meaning is believed to be obsolete.

I found this Toast on a postcard:

Click on it for a larger version (58kb);
a GIF version is 124 kb.


Alternative versions

I received the following alternative version from Terje Røren, with a different fifth line:
May your lum keep blithely reekin'
which means something like
May your chimney continue smoking cheerfully

Click on it for a larger version (67kb);
a GIF version is 85 kb.

And Tom Gilliland wrote me that his mother said the Scottish blessing is pretty much the same way, but with "meal poke" instead of "girnal" ("poke" being a bag or a small sac) and she also used the "lum" ending in this form: "may your lum aye reek blithly".


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last modified: 24 July 2022