What Are the Scots Really Like?
by David Wheater of Tours of Edinburgh
“I’ve seen the castle, I’ve eaten in the fantastic restaurants, and the people here are brilliant.”
“I love the people here, they are so nice and friendly. Edinburgh is a real classy city.”
This year, Scotland has been voted by Rough Guide readers as the most beautiful country in the world and also the most welcoming country in the world. Although I am, of course, a little biased, I do think we are one of the most beautiful countries in the world - but, are we really the most welcoming and friendly?
Well, having lived in Scotland all my life I think it's true to say that we are a pretty friendly bunch and there's no doubting our friendly and generous hospitality. If you're coming to Scotland for the first time you can be assured of a very warm welcome.
Despite this, however, the Scots have a rather undeserved, stereotypical image of being dour, miserly and thrifty, fuelled in part by some rather misleading film characters, cartoons and literary portrayals of recent years. Nothing, however, can be further from the truth. The Scots are some of the friendliest, most hospitable and kind-hearted people you'll ever meet, and we'll all be glad when this erroneous stereotype disappears!
The enduring notion of us being mean and frugal probably harks back to the days when Scotland was really very poor and people had to mend and make do with what they had to hand. Coupled with the Protestant work ethic and the 'all work and no play' Calvinist businessmen of the 18th century, it's possible to see where this idea of Scottish frugality has its origins.
For many centuries, Scotland was one of the poorest countries in Europe and it was natural that people made the most of what meagre resources they had. This efficiency, with an instinct to use resources wisely, along with an early understanding of the importance of education, may explain the ingenuity of the Scots people and the extraordinary number of inventions, literary works and scientific breakthroughs to have originated in Scotland.
Nowadays, the typical Scotsman and woman is a friendly, congenial and tolerant sort that likes to socialise and enjoy their leisure time. We love shopping too, with Edinburgh and Glasgow having some of the best shopping in the UK.
Both Edinburgh, the capital, and Glasgow (the friendliest city in the world in my opinion) are truly multicultural and some of Europeʼs most modern and progressive cities, attracting people to live and work from all around the world.
People relocating from overseas to Scotland will have very little trouble fitting in and making friends, providing they make the effort to get out, socialise and meet new people. A survey in Edinburgh in 2012, found nine out of ten people agreeing that people from different backgrounds interact positively in Edinburgh.
The stereotypical image of the kilt-wearing, tight-fisted Scotsman that loves to drink to excess is just a myth. While the Scots do love to socialise and have a drink, kilts are only worn on formal occasions like weddings, Burns Night and at Hogmanay. Scots are extremely proud of their tartan and their kilts, but they are really only for special occasions.
Some people moving from England worry that there is 'anti-English' resentment - but again this is simply a myth. There are around half a million English people living in Scotland and it would be very, very rare for anyone to suffer racist abuse of any kind. Any rivalry is normally confined to good natured, friendly banter between the nations.
Whether visiting, or coming to stay in Scotland for longer, you'll find the Scots to be generous, warm and welcoming - providing you make the effort to go out, explore and meet them!
"In Scotland, panic buying of petrol is rampant, with Scots putting in as much as five pounds at the pump."
Brian Blessed, Have I Got News for You (BBC1)
(Funny - yes, but a great example of the enduring stereotypical image of the Scots being a miserly bunch - a myth which really needs to be 'scotched' once and for all!)