Redding up the house

Hogmanay seems like the right day to introduce a new occasional series of posts about Scottish words which may or may not be little-known. I’m not entirely sure about the provenance of ‘redding’ but I’m fairly certain the word and the concept are Scottish as my mother and granny both used it.

My mother, who was born and raised not a million miles from Pitkirtly, used to dash round with a duster and vacuum cleaner on this day of the year. When challenged by those of the family who preferred to sit lazily around reading mystery novels, she said she was redding up the house for the New Year. Until I consulted some online sources I thought this word might be a variation on ‘readying’ but apparently it’s derived from Old Norse and is used in Pittsburgh as well as in Scotland.

Sadly, although I would quite like my house to be clean and tidy for New Year, I don’t think I’m going to be spending the day redding it up. But on my behalf one or two of my Pitkirtly characters probably will do this in their own houses. Jemima, of course, is the guardian of Scottish custom and practice and is probably scrubbing the front doorstep even now as I sit idly at my keyboard. Maisie Sue has been learning to be more Scottish and is bound to be   polishing her waffle-maker as I write. Rosie, the cattery owner, spends part of every day redding up cat litter so today won’t be any different. Amaryllis, with her liking for minimalist decor, keeps her flat spotless all the time – or at least her invisible housework fairies do, for I’ve never witnessed any cleaning in progress there. Christopher and Jock McLean both live in a constant state of dusty near-chaos but they don’t let it bother them. Charlie Smith has recently been fighting a losing battle against muddy paw-prints and dog-related clutter.

I would like to wish everyone reading this post a Happy New Year – whether they’re redding up their house for the occasion or not.

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