Hogmanay - New Year’s Eve - 31st December

Hogmanay is the most notable Scottish festival. On the last day of the year, families come together - traditionally at the home of the eldest relative. Often now, with families scattered across the globe, it is a group of good friends who wish to celebrate together who come together rather than families.

Whereas the English have traditionally made a big fuss over the Christmas celebration, up until relatively recently the Scots preferred to wait and celebrate the departure of the Old Year and the arrival of the New Year, on the night called HOGMANAY. For the first half of the Twentieth Century most Scots worked over Christmas, and did not get a break until the First of January.

It is thought that the reason for the Scot's dismissal of Christmas has is roots in the Protestant Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, which portrayed Christmas as a "Popish" or "Catholic" celebration and therefore  had to be banned. The only time left for the Scots to have a good "party" was the New Year, which was a pre-Christian celebration.

First Footing

The Scottish custom of first-footing originated in the belief that the first person who entered the house in the first few minutes of the new year as the bells ring at midnight would bring good luck. It is then traditional to leave your own house (if you do not have dependants or children in bed) and visit or "first foot" your neighbours. In doing so, it is important that you should take some gifts with you. A bottle of whisky, a lump of coal and some type of food. Traditionally this was oatcakes, black bun or shortbread, depending on the region. Those who stay at home generally hope that the first person to visit them will be tall, dark and handsome. (This is thought to be a throwback to Viking days when blond strangers arriving on your doorstep usually meant trouble).

Music for Hogmanay

It is customary to have a piper to play in the New Year if at all possible. In many homes, “first footing”, musicians will take along their instruments and have a tune as part of the celebrations. Tunes from the “Ceilidh Collections”, “Sessions Tunes for Scottish Fiddlers” and “Fiddle Music from the Scottish Highlands” are ideal for choosing music for the occasion.

It was also the tradition that you should clear of all your debts before you saw in the New Year. This was to be a clean break, a fresh start.

HOGMANAY in Scotland is definitely one of the most important community events in the year which can last for days ! Many people now come to Scotland to join in the celebrations and have large street parties rather than the traditional visiting which is still the custom in the Highlands.

New Year Resolutions

Hogmanay is a time both for reflection of the year past and wonder for the one that lies ahead. At this point it is natural to make resolutions for the New Year.