Strange Holidays: International Bagpipe Day

Piper © 2016 Margaret Sloan Watercolor on Arches #140 hot press

Did you know that today is International Bagpipe Day? The Bagpipe Society in Britain has deemed it so, and exhorts you to “go out and play your pipes – anywhere, anyhow to anyone!” Perhaps you’ll hear someone playing pipes today; I think it’s a sign of luck to come.

Bagpipes, the ultimate in balky reed instruments, are traditional throughout the world. My favorite are the Irish Uilleann pipes, which are the kind of pipes my friend Mike is playing in the painting above.

To avoid sounding like a punter, pronounce the  word “illin,” which is Irish for elbow. They’re played by pumping a bellows with one elbow to fill the air sack, which is squeezed by the other elbow to force air through the reed to make the squawking sound pipers describe as music. Get it? Elbow pipes.

Follow International Bagpipe Day at the society’s Facebook page:

And listen to this fine piping when you need a pick-me-up today.

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