Happy Hogmanay!

In Scotland New Years is a major celebration quite unlike any place else. The tradition stems from the area’s ancient deep winter sun and fire worship traditions, which involved a fire ceremony. These days celebrating still includes lighting of New Year fires, torch light processions, and even fireball swinging.Image: Source

Hogmanay’s origins date back to pagan rituals that marked the time of the winter solstice. Roman celebrations of the hedonistic winter festival of Saturnalia and Viking celebrations of Yule (the origin of the twelve days of Christmas) contributed to celebrations in Scotland around the new year. These celebrations and other ceremonies evolved over the centuries to become the Hogmanay holiday celebrated in Scotland today.

For many centuries in Scotland, Hogmanay was a far more important holiday than Christmas. Historians suggest this may have been a result of the Protestant Reformation after which Christmas, and its close ties to the Roman Catholic Church, was seen as “too Papist.” Others point to the grueling work schedules of laborers during the Industrial Revolution which did not provide time off for the Christmas holiday.

Only in the mid-20th century did Christmas emerge as the popular holiday it is in other Christian countries. But don’t be fooled—New Year’s still reigns supreme.

The singing of Auld Lang Syne after the clock strikes midnight is common as is lots of kissing. Scottish dances, or ceilidhs (pronounced “kayli”), toasts and “first footing” follow.

“First footing” is when just after midnight, neighbours visit one another’s houses to wish each other a good new year. Women were not acceptible first visitors, nor were redheads or blondes, thanks to the vikings invasion and pillaging in ages long gone. Tradition held that your first visitor should be a tall, dark male stranger, bearing symbolic gifts of cake/bread, coin, lump of coal or the like, so that you would have good luck in the coming year, never be hungry, never be cold.

In exchange visitors were offered food, and a wee dram of whisky or a “Het Pint”, a combination of ale, eggs, nutmeg and whisky.

Image: Source

Should you want to add a litte Hogmanay to your New Years tradition you can learn more at Hogmanay.net

I also found the far more Scottish version of Auld Lang Syne just below, so maybe give it a try.

Either way… Happy New Year, and best to all in 2012!

Words adapated from a traditional songby Rabbie Burns (1759-96)

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

CHORUS:For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup of kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I’ll be mine,
And we’ll tak a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

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

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn
Frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin auld lang syne.

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

Translation from the Scots Independent

auld lang syne ; days of long ago
pint stowp ; tankard
pou’d ; pulled
gowans ; daisies
mony ; many
fitt ; foot
paidl’d ; wade
dine; dinner-time
braid ; broad
fiere ; friend
willie-waught ; draught

Should old friendship be forgot’
And never remembered ?
Should old friendship be forgotten,
And days of long ago.

And surely you will have your tankard !
And surely I will have mine !
And we will take a cup of kindness yet,
For days of long ago’

We two have run about the hills
And pulled the daisies fine :
But we have wandered many a weary foot
Since days of long ago.

We two have waded in the stream
From dawn till dinner-time :
But seas between us broad have roared
Since days of long ago.

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give me a hand of thine !
And we will take a large draught
For days of long ago.


2 thoughts on “Happy Hogmanay!”

  1. Reblogged this on Seven Trees Farm and commented:

    New Year’s Eve is fast approaching! In the 2000 census, over 9 million people reported Scottish or Scots-Irish ancestry, and many of our year end celebrations derive from old Scottish traditions like Hogmanay.

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