Lang May Yir Lum Reek
Yesterday, I received my traditional Fourth of July email greeting from my cousin-by-marriage across the pond, Frank Quinn. Frank is married to Mary, one of my seven girl cousins in Scotland.
Frank is a man of few words, email-wise, though he can talk your ear off in person. Not that you’d understand a word of it, mind you, though he may very well claim with a grin (as my father used to) that he speaks the King’s English.
Here is the sum total of his message:
“HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY. LANG MAY YIR LUM REEK.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking the Brits still resent us just a WEE bit, especially upon even the slightest recollection of the events of 1776. Come on, people! How would YOU feel if it was suggested to you that YOUR lum reeked, hmm?
Yeah. I thought so.
It took me until this morning to be brave enough to google the darned thing. I thought I might have to hold my nose just to endure the stench of the translation.
His wish, in good old U.S. English, reads “Long may your chimney smoke.” I thought I could live with that until I read a longer version of the same traditional Scottish saying. “Lang may yir lum reek wi ither fowk’s coal.” Call me confused when I read that this means, “Long may your chimney smoke with other people’s coal.”
I’m sorry, but that makes me sound like a bit of a thief, a swindler, or a shyster, don’t you think? Or at least someone very good at using OPM—Other People’s Money? Was this personal, or some veiled reference to the New World riding its way to success on Britain’s prosperous red coattails?
Actually, it’s believed the saying may refer to the old Scottish New Year’s Eve custom of bringing a piece of coal into each home visited, of adding warmth to the fire of a friend. It’s a way of saying something like, “Have many friends, live a long time, and good luck.”
So guess what? I think Frankie likes me!
It’s a good thing, too. As it turns out, the whole lot of them are stuck with me on BOTH sides of the pond.
Yes, it’s official! I GOT MY BRITISH PASSPORT!!
If any of you fallible readers want to drop by to help me celebrate, please do! But remember, in July there’s really no need to bring a piece of coal. Really.
And if my lum reeks, keep it to yourself, OK?
Posted by Katy
on 07/05/07 at 06:56 AM
- Congratulations, Katy! So awesome to have it finally come through!
Posted by Sunflower on 07/05/07 at 08:14 AM
- Katy, congrats on your daughter's wedding - it looked beautiful! And a big congrats on your new British passport too! Totally awesome!
Posted by Staci on 07/06/07 at 10:37 AM
- Methinks ye need ta google less :)
Posted by Michael Main on 07/06/07 at 01:30 PM
- i turned to my husband a few years ago and asked with wonder, "what did we ever do before google?"
"you didn't have to KNOW everything", he replied.
can we help it if we're of the insatiably curious sort? ;)
(p.s. - congrats on the arrival of your passport!)
Posted by lisa on 07/07/07 at 08:45 AM
You have only "met" me a couple of times via this blog, but I keep up with your entertaining vignettes and beautiful tributes to love (i.e., Carrie's wedding) every week. Your mission to obtain that passport has been so well documented that I've been feeling your pain. When I read your post and the words "Yes it's official..." I truly lifted my arms in victory and exclaimed, "YES!" Hahaha! Almost like I was there alongside you hoping and rooting for your success all along. I'm very happy for you, as well as a tad jealous that I'll never have one of my own despite my husband's Scottish ancestry and my own Irish roots. I think it's just too far removed. Anyway, congrats and "Slainte!" (or is that Irish?)
Posted by Kelley Mathews on 07/08/07 at 02:34 PM
- You are all SO nice to congratulate me over something so...goofy, I guess. But it means a lot to me!!
Kelley--Slainte is Irish, but hey. I'm equal parts Scottish and Irish, so all Irish greetings accepted here! I really enjoyed your enthusiasm........ :)
Posted by Katy on 07/09/07 at 02:49 PM
- Congrats. I'm happy for you
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Posted by ottawa wedding on 07/16/08 at 11:44 AM
- Best wishes for both of you.
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Posted by e-commerce website development on 08/16/08 at 12:47 AM
- The phrase is a toast that you will always have anough money to afford coal to go in the fire.
Posted by jeff wilson on 09/02/08 at 12:06 PM
- so nice!!!
Posted by Winning lottery numbers on 11/11/08 at 08:51 PM
- Almost like I was there alongside you hoping and rooting for your success all along. I’m very happy for you, as well as a tad jealous that I’ll never have one of my own despite my husband’s Scottish ancestry and my own Irish roots.
Posted by Smoking Cigars on 02/05/09 at 07:56 AM
- Congratulations! That's great news. Having that British passport should come in handy. I've known plenty of people who've had to wrangle back and forth with the consulate for years to get one.
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Posted by myspace profile design on 12/12/09 at 05:55 AM
- I just wanted to say someone left and lang may yer lum reek message on a UK newspaper site, and it immediately got me thinking - exactly what you were thinking, I think. And I'md glad it's meant to be far more innocent than it sounds. Best stick to Happy New Year (in 2010) methinks ...!
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- I have a friend from Scotland, sure are some nice people.
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Posted by Jhon on 07/27/11 at 06:02 AM
- I love celebrating 4th of July not only for Fireworks but for the independence day as well.
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- I definitely had no idea what the saying means before reading this post. Frankie is so lovely by sending greetings in such a traditional way.
Posted by LED Spot Light on 11/28/11 at 01:22 AM
- I saw this on a bumper sticker yesterday. I didn't know what, "long may your lum reek on other people's coal" meant. BUT, there was a scottish decal under it so I figured it had to be either funny or wise. Love those scottish sayings. Had to look it up. Of course it was wise: Have many friends, live a long time, have good luck. I LOVE It! pt
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