Hogmanay

 

As the year come to a close, I’d like to wish you and yours all the best for a Happy and Prosperous 2016.  

In Scotland New Year is called Hogmanay. It is a great festive time, seeped in many customs and traditions. Hogmanay is a bigger celebration than Christmas, especially for adults. This may stem from the ban on Christmas that existed for 400 years.

Nobody knows for sure where the word “Hogmanay” came from. Opinions differ as to whether it originated from the Gaelic oge maidne (“New Morning”), Anglo-Saxon Haleg Monath (“Holy Month”), or Norman French word hoguinané, which was derived from the Old French anguillanneuf (“gift at New Year) This is my favorite as it goes well with the Scottish tradition of First Footing.

Here are some of the Hogmanay traditions:

I can remember my mum furiously cleaning the house for New Year’s Eve to welcome the New Year. It is considered ill luck to welcome in the New Year in an unclean house so the house was made especially pretty on New Year’s Eve.

Another old Scottish tradition at midnight the man of the house would open the back door to let out the old year, then open the front door to let the New Year in. People would also open the windows to let the old year out. Some Households would make as much noise as possible to scare off the evil spirits and would read the ashes of the last fire of the year to see their luck (like tea leaves) for the New Year. Scottish people are superstitious and dramatic.

All over Scotland, the tradition is to hold Hogmanay parties or Ceilidhs (pronounced “Kailey”), involving singing, dancing, the eating of steak pie or stew, storytelling and consumption of copious amounts of alcohol, which usually extend into the daylight hours of January 1 and maybe the 2nd and 3rd. The first stroke of the Chimes at the New Year is known as the Bells. At midnight people link arms and sing Auld Lang Syne.

After the bells, people go out visiting friends and family. This is called first footing. Some people carry a gift or a bottle of whiskey. Traditionally people would carry a lump of Coal to give as a gift to the friends and family signalling prosperity for them in the New Year. A toast of Lang May Yer Lum Reek (may your fireplace always have smoke- Live long and prosper) or a Guid New Year to ane an a and mony may ye see (A good new year to one and all and many may you see).

The last time I spent New Year in Scotland we went to a Dance at the Ex Service Mans Club and then the entire family made their way down to Rick’s Gran and Granddad’s house to first foot them. His Gran was happily waiting for us all with a good few bottles and a big pot of Stovies. That was the beginning of a week-long New Year’s Party as we first footed every family home.

My Uncle Bobby and Aunt Jean were the New Year’s Day hosts. Each New Year’s Day we would visit them and enjoy another party with a Steak Pie Dinner, Neeps (Turnip) and Tatties (Potatoes). There would be another sing song and dance as the celebrations continued.

 

Auld Lang Syne – Robert Burns

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne* ?

CHORUS:

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.

CHORUS

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie’s a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.

CHORUS

Lang my yer lum reek!

All the best for a Healthy Happy and Prosperous New Year, Enjoy it, when it comes.