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Opinion: Scottish haggis hurling a worthwhile cultural experience

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Haggis is a traditional Scottish food, consisting of sheep heart, liver and lungs — encased into a sheep’s stomach.

Despite my study abroad professor’s persistent persuading to get us all to try it while we were in Edinburgh, Scotland, this past May, I admittedly never did.

I saw fellow classmates order the dish as an appetizer at a group dinner, but looking at it was enough for me.

Good news, though: the Scottish don’t just eat this obscure food (obscure by U.S. standards that is — seriously, it’s illegal here because of the lung), they’ve made a sport out of it called haggis hurling.

So, we did it. My study abroad professor and several classmates reunited this past Friday on the Oval for Ohio State’s first-ever haggis toss — at least, the first as far as we know.

One by one, we stood on a small step stool and threw the haggis overhand in the hopes of it landing between two ropes that created a lane. The one who threw it the farthest and landed it between the ropes won.

(We didn’t use haggis from Scotland, so it was without sheep’s lungs and was legal.)

While standing on said step stool, we took turns wearing a plaid sash. I felt like a Scottish beauty queen. All that was missing was a kilt — but the temperature was in the 30s on Friday, so I’d say the sash was a better option.

Of course, we weren’t the first group to partake in some kind of bizarre activity on the Oval, but nonetheless, we seemed to draw some attention.

Several tour groups went by, and I can only imagine what they thought of OSU students as we were throwing an obscure piece of meat duct taped to prevent leaks, listening to bagpipe music via a boom box on the ground, hearing our professor recite literature from Robert Burns in his best Scottish accent and having an absolute blast.

Two random people actually stepped up to the plate — or in this case, stool — and joined in our shenanigans, so I have hope that maybe this was indication that the passing tour groups were more intrigued than weirded out by the event, too.

And they should be intrigued because it’s awesome to partake in traditions from other cultures.

I could probably play basketball or softball through an intramural team at almost any college in the U.S., but how many of those colleges have students competing in some good ol’ haggis hurling?

College is a great time to learn more about other cultures and explore traditions and activities that seem a little out there at first glance. Whether it’s through study abroad, a cultural student organization or fellow classmates, there are all kinds of opportunities to expand one’s world view and have some fun doing it.

Some might be a little too far out of one’s comfort zone: for me, eating haggis.

But others, such as tossing haggis, are just right. 

One comment

  1. WASTE OF A GOOD HAGGIS!

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