The Scottish national emblem
«Oh, East is East, and West is West,
And never twain shall meet,
Till Earth and sky stand presently
At God’ Great Judgement seat»
The thistle has nothing pleasant in it, especially if you carelessly touch its thorns. But it has an important meaning for the people of Scotland. It is the Scottish national emblem. Scotland, as you may know, is now part of Great Britain.
Why did the Scottish thorny choose this thorny plant as the national emblem of their country?
The answer is interesting and it can be found in the history of Scotland. The people of that country chose the thistle as their national emblem because it saved their land from foreign invaders many years ago.
People say that during a surprise night attack by the invaders the Scottish soldiers were awakened by the shouts of the invaders as their bare feet touched the thorns of the thistles in the field they were crossing. This, of course, was a good reason to choose the thistle as a national emblem!
There are different stories as to how the thistle became the official emblem of Scotland. One legend is that during a battle with the Norse*, a band of Scots hid out for the night in an area surrounded by thistles. The Norse, hoping to surprise them, removed their footwear so they could sneak up unheard and massacre the Scots easily. However, one soldier stepped on a thistle and his cries of pain woke up the Scots who roundly defeated the Norse. Another legend is that some Danes planned a midnight attack on a Scottish castle. In this story they also removed their footwear to catch the inhabitants of the castle by surprise. They jumped into the moat to swim to the castle but found that it was filled with thistles. Their cries of pain woke up the inhabitants of the castle who managed to defeat the Danes soundly.
Whatever the truth behind the legend is, the thistle became the official emblem of Scotland during the reign of Alexander III in the 13th century. It was first used on silver coins in 1470, during the reign of James II and was incorporated into the country's coat of arms in the 16th century.
The Order of the Thistle is a Scottish chivalric order that was founded by King James V in 1540. It consisted of the king and 12 of his knights. It was meant to draw parallels between Jesus and his 12 apostles. It also reminds one of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The Order of the Thistle's motto is "nemo me impune lacessit" which means "no one harms me without punishment."
The thistle appears on every type of souvenir and item that you can name. You can find t-shirts, bumper stickers, and jewelry with the ^ on it. One piece of jewelry featuring the thistle, if it can be considered jewelry, is the Skean Dhu. This is the decorative knife that is worn in men's stockings.
* The Norse-Gaels were a people who dominated much of the Irish Sea region and western Scotland for a large part of the Middle Ages.
Find the answer to the questions:
1. What is the national emblem of Scotland?
2. Why does the thistle have nothing pleasant in it?
3. Why did the Scottish people choose the thistle for their national emblem?
Read the new words and learn the poem by heart:
to cut – резать, срезать
thistle – бот. чертополох
to die – умирать, погибать
Cut thistles in May,
They grow in a day;
Cut them in June,
That is too soon;
Cut them in July,
Then they will die.
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