Hogmanay in Scotland - A New Year Holiday
Homanay is one of the largest celebrations in Scotland. Why do so many people come so see in the New year? Read on to find out.
Hogmanay in Scotland
The Celebration of Hogmanay originates in Scotland. The Scots have always made a big thing about bringing in the New Year.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not all about alcohol, there are several other customs linked with this Holiday, though many are dying out.
This custom originally consisted of the darkest haired youth of the house being the first to step out the door just after midnight, bearing gifts for the neighbours but this tradition has regional variations.
The youth would take food, coin and a lump of coal with them (again, the coal less used now, as fewer homes have fires). This represented health, wealth and warmth. In times gone by, the food would have been bread because bread was a staple in the diet of everyone. Now, it’s more often shortbread.
Why come to Scotland?
Apart from being the birth place of Hogmanay (and please note, I’m stating Hogmanay, not the New Year), we know how to party in style.
Edinburgh is rapidly becoming one of THE places to be for the bells but generally, the whole of Scotland is catching up. People rent cottages in the Highlands or take short breaks in the other major cities in Scotland – Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness.
Traditionally, a ceilidh would have been a focal point for a community at this time of year, which has now become the street party.
A ceilidh nowadays is held in a hall or hotel, with music, dancing and singing, usually performed by professional entertainers to a paying crowd or guests. However traditionally, it was a gathering (ceilidh means gathering in gaelic), usually held in a home, often of a respected member of the community. The entertainment was provided by the guests themselves, each taking turns to sign, play dance or tell something. Telling stories was a large part of a traditional ceilidh. The stories were either true, or legends. This was how many local legends were passed on, as much of early Scottish myth and history was oral.
These stories were later captured by the likes of Robert Burns but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.
The New Year starts on the 1st of January. This date was introduced in Roman times, when they started calling it New Years Day. In many parts of Europe they had other days, Christmas Day, Easter, the 25th of March that were counted as the start of the year but the 1st was the date that was actually called New Years Day.
While most people celebrated Christmas and did little to see in the New Year, Scotland has always enjoyed seeing it in with ceilidh’s and family gatherings. It is a time of community, of fun and of sending off the old year with a bang!
Happy New Year!