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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Research Reveals Scotland’s Favourite Scots Language Songs 

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As Burns Night (25 January) approaches, we celebrate not just Robert Burns’ poetry but also the wider heritage found in the Scots language.

With lively readings of Burns’ verses and traditional Scottish music, this spirited celebration highlights the importance of the Scottish language in preserving and expressing the unique identity and cultural richness of the nation. 

Beyond language, music plays a paramount role in preserving a country’s traditions and songs can be incredible time-capsules that preserve a nation’s cultural heritage. 

The tradition of children in Scottish schools learning Scots songs is longstanding and embedded in Scottish culture, so much so that it is part of the Scottish school curriculum.  

To celebrate all things Scots language ahead of Burns Night, VisitScotland surveyed more than 1,000 Scottish adults to see exactly what their favourite Scots songs are, their memories of learning Scots songs in school, and whether they enjoyed their time learning Scots language songs as part of their schooling.  

Interestingly, 9 in 10 Scots (86%) say that they have fond memories of learning Scots songs at school, with 91% saying that they could read and listen to Scots songs and understand what most of the words mean, while a further 84% can still sing the lyrics of songs they learn.  

Resonating with the hearts of over a fifth of Scots (22%), the beloved ‘Canny Shove Yer Grannie’ was selected as Scotland’s favourite and most memorable Scots song. 

‘Canny Shove Yer Grannie’ was followed by ‘Donald Where’s Yer Troosers’ with 1 in 8 Scots selecting it as their favourite. 

In third place was ‘Coulters Candy (Ally Bally)’ with 1 in 10 Scots choosing it as their most beloved tune.  

See the top 10 results below with the percentage of Scots voting for each song. 

Ranking Song  Weight  
Canny Shove Yer Grannie 22% 
Donald Where’s Yer Troosers 12% 
Coulters Candy (Ally Bally) 10% 
Wee Willie Winkie 9% 
Skinny Malinky (longlegs, big banana feet) 7% 
Three Craws Sat Upon a Wa’ 6% 
The Jeely Piece Song 6% 
Bonnie Wee Jeannie McColl 4% 
Scots Wha Hae 3% 
10 My Hearts in the Highlands 2% 

Cat Leaver, VisitScotland Head of Brand and Global Marketing said: 

“Scotland’s rich cultural heritage is a strong draw for visitors and a huge part of what makes us a unique visitor destination.  

“A passionate advocate of the Scots language, the words of Robert Burns have inspired people around the world for generations, with Burns Night an internationally enjoyed celebration of Scottish culture.  

“This research demonstrates the lasting impression of the Scots language on people across the country and the importance of communities to keeping these traditions alive.  

“Not just for Burns Night, you can experience Scots language, as well as Gaelic and Doric all year round through songs and traditional music at spoken word events, gigs and world-renowned festivals.

“With so much to enjoy we want to inspire visitors to slow down and really immerse themselves in the communities, culture and traditions of Scotland, which provide a deeply personal and authentic experience.”  

For more information, please visit VisitScotland’s traditional Scottish music page: https://www.visitscotland.com/things-to-do/events/music-festivals/traditional-folk  

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