Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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UPHALIE-, n. Only in combs. 1. Uphali(e)day, -hallieday, -helliday, the feast of the Epiphany on 6 Jan., marking the end of the Christmas holidays, twelve days from Christmas. Hist.; 2. Uphellie nicht, the evening of the Epiphany, Twelfth-night; 3. Uphellya, uphel(l)ya(a), up(p)hellia(a), a festival held in Lerwick on the last Tuesday of January as a survival of the Celtic fire festivals and the medieval Feast of Fools of the Yule season and now celebrated with modern accretions, such as the burning of a model Viking ship, tableaux, masquerading of Guisers, etc. (see C. E. Mitchell Up-helly-aa (1948) (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), uphellia, Sh. 1973). The last syllable of the word is taken to represent A', all. Also attrib. [′ʌphɛle (′ɑ)] 1. Sh. 1774 G. Low Tour (1879) 82:
Their Festivals are Christmas, Newyearsday, Uphaliday (the last day of Yule).
Ork. 1908 Old-Lore Misc. I. vii. 246:
Football was played on Yule Day, New-Year's Day, and Uphelli Day, the fourth day after old New Year's Day.
Sc. 1960 F. M. McNeill Silver Bough III. 125:
To the country folk, Auld Handsel Monday was, in fact, Uphalieday, and with this last burst of jollity the Daft Days ended.
2. Mry. c.1850 Pluscarden MS.:
A woman could cease to be a witch by saying the Lord's prayer every day from Halloween to Up-hellie-night.
Mry. 1881 S. R. Macphail Relig. Ho. Pluscardyn 155:
The thirteenth night o' Eel was called uphellie nicht.
3. Sc. 1884 Good Words 747:
Uphelya, — the twenty-fourth day after Yule, and that on which the Holy or holidays are supposed to be “up”.
Sh. 1901 Shetland News (5 Jan.):
The principal Festival of the season to Lerwegians, namely ‘Up-helly A,' which brings to a close the orgies and festivities which have more or less been the rule for a month, is now celebrated with all the ‘glorious pomp and circumstance' of Norse galleys, torch-light processions, and guizing galore.
Sh. 1934 W. Moffatt Shetland 129:
Up-Helly-Aa night was the twenty-fourth night of the Helli or Holy Days, and that period of feasting, drinking, singing and rejoicing concluded with a great flare-up on Up-Helly-Aa night.
Sh. 1948 Daity Mail (16 Jan.):
Lerwick is demanding the revival of its 1,000-year-old Norse ceremony, Up-Helly-Aa, banned during the war because of the shortages of timber for the Norse galley, paraffin for the torches and coupons for costumes.
Sh. 1967 New Shetlander No. 80. 19:
Three rousing choruses of the “Up-Helly-A' Song.”

[O.Sc. uphalyday, 1478, uphaly evin, 1507, from up, over, finished, + Halie, Haliday. The Sh. Uphellya has been somewhat altered to conform to Helly.]

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"Uphalie- n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 17 May 2021 <>



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