This winter we’re celebrating the simple pleasures of the Harris Cèilidh, but first, you may be asking what is a cèilidh anyway, and how the heck do you pronounce it?
This special Gaelic word is easy to say, try "KAY-lee" and you've got it!
It just means “a visit” and here in the Outer Hebrides we often use the word when we have a wee get-together at home with family and friends.
The words "Thigibh a chèilidh!" or "come over for a cèilidh!" is music to our ears and a welcome invitation to pop around to someone's house for a very social evening.
So, what happens at a cèilidh? Well, the beauty of it is that anything goes and there's no need to plan or make complicated preparations.
What's most important is the people you are with, so there's no need for any fuss or formality as this is all about family and friendship.
But, it's worth doubling down on your Hebridean hospitality, so to help things along here are 7 simple steps to help your own winter cèilidh go with a swing...
C is for Comfortable Surroundings: Hebridean hospitality is legendary and we always want our guests to feel right at home. Get the wood-burner blazing or fire-pit aflame, don’t fuss about drinks coasters or fancy cutlery, and try to keep things relaxed and cosy.
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 seafood snacks 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 helps connect us with those we love so surround yourself with your favourite people. It’s a chance to reminisce about times gone by, catch up on gossip, and enjoy the company of your favourite people for a fun-filled evening.
I is also for Island Music: If you know any singers or musicians, invite them and their instruments along to provide some spontaneous entertainment when the spirit moves them. Otherwise, just turn to Spotify for some traditional tunes.
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 Winter cèilidh is complete without plenty of island spirit to share. From Harris G&Ts to creative cocktails from the kitchen, be sure to keep your guests glasses full and be generous with your pour.
So, there you have it, 7 easy-to-remember steps to creating your own Harris Cèilidh at home this winter!
We know times are tough right now, but what better time to step away from social media and reconnect with the things that are most important to you?
Please join us in extending a warm island welcome to your nearest and dearest this coming season, and bring them in from the cold this Christmas...