by Anna-Cara Keim
On December 5th the British newspaper The Independent published information about a Scottish government document revealing that, upon a Scottish independence, the current government in Edinburgh wants Scotland to “become Scandinavian”.
The idea is to build closer ties with Scandinavia and North Eastern Europe. Additional plans suggest that Scotland should join the Nordic security co-operation and the Nordic Council.
Scotland Scandinavian? Really? For us Scandinavians this is a bit difficult to believe. While Finland linguistically might not belong to the Scandinavian family, it is indisputably a Nordic state. The Nordic countries share, at least partially, a common history. They have very comparable cultural traditions and a similar mentality. However, Scotland does not fit the picture. Scottish culture is quite distinct and the only places where similarities with the Nordic culture can be discovered are on the remote Shetland Islands. The Shetland Norn (Norse) is a language that is part of the West Norse language group such as Faeroese or Norwegian. Yet, Shetland Norn is practically an extinct language nowadays. If at all it is only used for ceremonial purposes.
It will be very interesting to see what Scotland’s new Scandinavian identity will look like. This is, of course, given that the referendum on Scottish independence will succeed. Up to the present day Scottish identity has usually been defined against the English ‘Other’. The English ‘Other’, the English coloniser and the English imperial power have caused the Scots to define themselves as culturally distinct and indeed in every possible sense as simply very different from their English neighbour.
During my years in Scotland I had friends forbidding me to use the word lake – “because it is called a loch up here”. New Year’s Eve was always Hogmanay and no year passed without a Burns supper on January 25th. Others bought the Scottish national soft drink IrnBru, a disgustingly sweet and bright orange coloured beverage of no particular flavour only in glass bottles. The rumour said that the plastic bottles were produced “across the border”…
So will there soon be meatballs and gingerbread instead of haggis and shortbread?
We can only wait and see… (And on this note the ‘Other’ will have a cup of tea.)