Hogmanay

Here in Scotland we celebrate Hogmanay, and along with it are many customs and traditions.  As we saw in the bells last night my husband, mum, dad and I ate in our local favourite Spanish restaurant but more about that in a moment.

Matt and I were discussing what we would put in our blog and we knew without a doubt that our entry for 1 January 2018 had to be about the Scottish tradition of Hogmanay.  Which lead me to actually looking into the history of it and where they traditions come from.  Whilst I knew about all the customs, I must admit I didn’t know their true history, I knew all about ‘First Footing,’ ‘The Stonehaven Fire Balls’ and singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ as the bells strike twelve, but not necessarily why.  If you are the same as me, you’re in luck – because I researched it and here is what I found.

To start I looked at where the name Hogmanay came from, and whilst no one can pinpoint it exactly, it is believed to be the Scots word for ‘The last day of the year.’  Here in Scotland we take it very seriously, with festivities happening in the few days before and after, in fact we take it so seriously that January 2nd is a Bank Holiday in Scotland, because we need two days to recover!  Hogmanay has serious links to the Vikings and their way of seeing in the Winter Solstice, which I believe involved a lot of drink – some things definitely don’t change!

In Edinburgh this year we had the Torchlight Procession on the 30th, which is a throwback to our Viking ancestory, the Street Party, where you might lose your shoe whilst dancing to the likes of Human League and Huey Morgan and of course today, there is the Loony Dook.  A Hogmanay tradition where people dress up and run into the ‘refreshing’ waters of the Firth of Forth to wash away the hangovers and raise money for charity.  To have a look at what we do in Edinburgh here’s a link to their website.

Of course in Stonehaven there was the traditional Fire Balls festival, which is believed to have been used to ward off evil spirits and to see the New Year in.  The procession make their way through the centre of town from the Market Cross to the Harbour, where the fireballs are released and doused out in the North Sea.  To book tickets for next year, the link is here.

First Footing (which is quite literally the first foot in the house after midnight) is a tradition which many Scots still adhere to, though there are some rules to follow if you want to have a lucky year:

  1. The person should be a tall, dark haired male.
  2. He should bring with him a piece of coal to provide warmth
  3. A silver coin to ensure financial prosperity
  4. Bread to make sure there is always food on the table
  5. Salt to bring flavour
  6. An evergreen to provide a long-life
  7. A drink (usually Whisky) to keep good cheer

Auld Lang Syne is sung as it was a poem written by the Bard of Ayrshire, also known as, Rabbie Burns (or Robert Burns.) It was apparently a song that Rabbie heard an old man signing, it was an old, traditional song that he took and added some extra verses.  We sing it at Midnight as a way of saying goodbye (that said we sing it at quite a few places, weddings, retirements, Friday night down the pub!)  So for those who are usually a little bit merry, here are the lyrics:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae ran about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine,
But we’ve wander’d monie a weary fit
Sin’ auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine,
And we’ll tak a right gude willie waught
For auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

One of the most beautiful versions of this song, in my humble opinion, is the version by Mairi Campbell, it’s used in the movie Sex and the City, and is just the most hauntingly, beautiful sound.  You can listen to it here.

That is where some of the Scottish traditions came from and what they are, I have to say I’m glad that I did a wee bit of research as I find it quite interesting that as a person who grew up in Scotland I just went along with it.

As for us we spent our Hogmanay celebrating in Spanish style at a local restaurant called Tapa.  We first went three years ago and were delighted to hear we got to bring in the bells twice.  We saw in the New Year in Spain at 11pm our time, with the tradition of eating 12 grapes for good luck.  On each bong you put a grape in your mouth, you are not allowed to eat it until all twelve are in – I made it to about eight before I laughed.  We then had a wee glass of Cava and for the next hour enjoyed some tapas and drink when we finally saw in the New Year by singing Auld Lang Syne and celebrate with some Churros!

How did you spend it?  Let us know.

 

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