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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1956 (SND Vol. IV). Includes material from the 1976 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

GALATIAN, n. Also galashan, galoshan, goloshan, -in, gilashon. [gɑ′lɑʃn, -′lɔʃən, gɔ-]

1. The name of a play performed by boy Guisers on the last days of the year; a mumming play or entertainment at this time (Per.3 1880, galoshans; Ayr.4 1928; Fif.15 (galashan), Rxb.4 1946) or at Hallowe'en (wm.Sc.1 c.1900). Sometimes in pl.Gsw. 1825 Jam.:
Galatians . . . Boys . . . go about in the evenings, at the end of the year, dressed in paper caps, and sashes, with wooden swords, singing and reciting at the doors of houses.
Sc. 1925 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 167:
Probably the latest surviving form of this kind of “gyse” was “Goloshins”, a name derived from a play, “The Galatian”, with which the hallowed week closed and New Year was begun. It was played by young boys.
Sc. 1945 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 203:
But Auld Nick's faur ower terrible To play galoshans.
Sc. 1945 Scots Mag. (Dec.) 203:
The play most generally enacted by these troupes [of “Guisers”] was entitled “Galatian.” Its principal dramatis personæ were the hero, Galatian, . . . the Black Knight, a Doctor, Judas the purse-bearer, and a lad who acted as a sort of Chorus.

2. (1) The name of the hero in the above play, a mummer, harlequin (Cld. 1880 Jam.; Rnf. c.1900; ‡Fif., Lnk.11, ‡Slk., Rxb.4, Ayr. 1953); †(2) hence, “a stupid fellow, a ninny” (s.Sc. 1825 Jam., goloshin).(1) Sc. 1825 in J. G. Lockhart Scott (1837) V. xiii.:
The hero [of the Guisards' play at Hogmanay] was one Goloshin, who gets killed in a “battle for love”, but is presently brought to life again by a doctor of the party.
Peb. 1847 R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 300:
Galatian is (at the royal burgh of Peebles) dressed in a good whole shirt, tied round the middle with a handkerchief, from which hangs a wooden sword. He has a large cocked-hat of white paper, either cut out with little human profiles, or pasted over with penny valentines.
Ib. 301:
Here come I, Galatian; Galatian is my name; Sword and buckler by my side, I hope to win the game.
Bwk. 1897 R. M. Calder Poems 118:
An' eke — the time-worn play, O' “Here comes in Gilashon,” wha Gets killed on Hogmanay.
Arg. 1901 N. Munro Doom Castle (1923) xxxv.:
I thocht the Coont looked gey like a galoshan in't, but I maun be the bonny doo mysel'.
Dmb. 1927 J. Ferguson The Old Vale 83:
Only once did I hear a troupe of Goloshans in the Vale go through their entertainment.
Peb. 1940 Pebsh. News (27 Dec.) 2:
I played Galatian many times as a boy.

[A similar play was acted in various parts of England at the Christmas and New Year season, the principal characters being identified with various historical or legendary figures.]

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"Galatian n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 Apr 2024 <>



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