As soon as the thistle was decided on for this FOTW, my first thought was: how can I somehow shoehorn in a reference to the greatest football mascot of all time, the David Shrigley designed Kingsley aka the lopsided yellow talisman of Partick Thistle F.C.?
Unfortunately I couldn’t think of a way to do it, so we’ll focus instead on some of the other qualities that the floral emblem of Scotland possesses. Mischaracterised as a pesky weed, they’re actually super-useful as both fuel for honey bees and as a source of rennet, which is used in the process of cheese-making. Also did you know that the artichoke, that most deliciously rich-tasting vegetable, is actually a type of thistle?
It’s that association with our friends over the border though that immediately comes to mind when the thistle comes to mind. As we’re discovering thanks to FOTW, pretty much every flower symbol origin story ever involves some tenuous/questionable role in an unverified historical or mythological tale. This one involves invading vikings, whose sneaky nighttime attack upon a Scottish settlement was supposedly thwarted when one of of the horny-hatted attackers stepped on a thistle, causing him to cry out in pain. Needless to say this woke the Scots, and a kilt-clad counter attack was swiftly enacted.
Beyond all this though, there’s something really perfect about the aesthetic qualities of a flowering thistle. Those jagged prickles form an uncompromising base that works to offset the almost frilly strands of pink colour above. Tough yet soft at the same time: qualities that transcend any weedy monikers.