Have you ever heard of a quaich? The quaich is a Scottish traditional two handled cup, while its origins are mysterious its purpose is well known and has been celebrated throughout history – even by Walter Scott!
The Quaich, also known as the Scottish Cup of Welcome, is a two-handled shallow bowl, originally made of wood and then later made in silver, used to share a drink of (generally) whisky as an act of welcome and friendship. While its true origins are wrapped in mystery and speculations, it is believed to originate from the Highlands and only became popular in the lowlands, particularly Edinburgh and Glasgow possibly in the 17th century.
Sir Walter Scott loved a good quaich, he was known for owning several and some where made of very special commemorative wood. Scott’s Waterloo Tree Quaich was made in part from wood he took from the Waterloo Elm – the Duke of Wellington’s command post in the Battle of Waterloo. Scott’s collection also featured quaichs made from Falkland Oak, one made from Queen Mary’s yew and another from the Wallace Oak. One of his very precious quaichs was said to have travelled from Edinburgh to Derby with Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745.
It is still fairly common to see quaichs used in special occasions such as weddings and births; they are also commonly used as gifts, and even trophies or prizes at sporting events or any type of competitions. In the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which were held in Glasgow, every medallist received a special commemorative wooden quaich designed by Glasgow-based artist Paul Hodgkiss.
July 30th marks the International Day of Friendship, which was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. The Quaich embodies that very same idea of friendship.
Quaichs are for everyone, for the Clan Chiefs and the average Iain. On this International Day of Friendship, channel your inner Walter Scott, grab a quaich and have a dram with your friends. Sláinte!