All around the world, New Year’s Eve is a day of anticipation for the end of the old year and the start of a new one. In Scotland this day has its own name, it is called Hogmanay and it comes with many of its own traditions.
Scotland loves the New Year. We even have a special name for New Year’s Eve. We call it Hogmanay.
‘The Bells’ welcome the New Year in Scotland, the sound of clocks and bells everywhere marking the stroke of midnight. We ask each other where we will be for ‘The Bells’ and arrange to be with our friends (or family!).
In many places across the world Auld Lang Syne is often sung after the bell has struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, as the new year begins. The words to this very famous song were written by Scottish poet Robert Burns. It is a gift to the world from Scotland.
In the first minutes and hours of the New Year, we Scots have a tradition called ‘first footing’. It is about the person who is the first to enter your home after ‘The Bells’. Their foot is the first in your house in the New Year. However, it cannot be just anyone and they must come prepared.
The ‘first footer’ must be a man and he must have dark hair to bring luck. Light-haired men – and women – are bad luck. The dark-haired man must bring with him some gifts – a lump of coal, salt, a piece of black bun, and a wee dram of whisky – which bring luck and prosperity for the coming year.
January 1st is a public holiday in most countries, but in Scotland the next day, January 2nd is also a public holiday. The New Year celebrations are taken very seriously by the Scots. In the past, Christmas did not receive as much attention as New Year although that has definitely changed now. Both holidays are celebrated with gusto.
Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, normally has a three day Hogmanay festival that is known throughout the world. This year, however, the celebrations in Edinburgh are digital. See more at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay
For more information see also The History of Hogmanay