Over the coming months, we’re setting out to reclaim the Cèilidh, bringing this special Gaelic word back to its true meaning, “a visit”.
Instead of being all about kilts and Highland dancing, here in the Outer Hebrides, it’s simply a wee get-together at home with family and friends.
It’s as far from a formal dinner party as you can get, all you need is a bit of good food, drink, music, and company.
To help you have a Harris Cèilidh of your own, we’ve just released a new book which is packed full of ideas, recipes, stories, and toe-tapping tunes to stream.
But to get you started, here are seven simple steps to help the night go with a swing…
C is for Comfortable Surroundings: Hebridean hospitality is legendary and we always want our guests to feel right at home. So, whether you’re gathering around a peat fire or garden fire pit, make sure there are seats for everyone and don’t fuss about drinks coasters and fancy cutlery.
E is for Eat Your Fill: While the drink is flowing, it’s always a good idea to soak up the cèilidh spirits with some fuss-free fare. From simple snacks and finger foods to shared plates and hearty pots, keep it quick and easy, and don’t overthink it.
I is for Interesting Stories: The best cèildhs are full of great craic, that unique kind of conversation where the laughter flows as the crazy stories of life are shared. Some people, particularly islanders, really excel in telling tall tales but be sure to have a good anecdote or two to hand to keep the “yarns” being spun.
L is for Love And Friendship: The cèilidh is a celebration of the things which connect us with those we love. It’s a chance to reminisce about times gone by, catch up on gossip, and to enjoy the company of your favourite people for a fun-filled evening.
I is also for Island Music: Bigger events will probably have a live band to provide the tunes, but for the typical cèilidh at home, you can stick to using the stereo. But, if you know any singers or musicians, invite them and their instruments along to provide some spontaneous entertainment when the spirit moves them.
D is for Dance If The Mood Takes You: Once the music gets underway, and the drams are flowing, then don’t be shy and give dancing a try. There might not be room for a full-on Gay Gordons but don’t let that stop you from trying a wee reel or two. And if you don’t dance then clap your hands and stamp your feet!
H is for Harris Gin: Finally, no Harris Cèilidh is complete without plenty of island spirit to share. From Harris G&Ts to creative cèilidh cocktails, be sure to keep your guests' glasses full and be generous with your liquid hospitality.
So, there you have it, 7 easy-to-remember steps to creating your own Harris Cèilidh at home!
After the past few years of social disconnection caused by Covid, and the challenges of the current cost-of-living crisis, let’s get back together and celebrate some of the simple pleasures in life.
If you’d like to discover more about the history of the cèilidh, learn some Gaelic, stream some music, explore local seafood recipes and try some Harris Cèilidh cocktails, then we’ve got you covered.
Our new book is now on sale in the UK here, and there is one more chance to get hold of the free download here, for those of you further afield.
"Thigibh a chèilidh!"