LivingTravel5 Scottish Hogmanay Traditions You Probably Never Heard Of

5 Scottish Hogmanay Traditions You Probably Never Heard Of

Hogmanay is Scotland’s New Year’s celebration. But did you know it’s a three to five day blast with a ton of old, strange and wild traditions?

As the Christmas festivities wind down across the UK, the truly spectacular Hogmanay festivities in Scotland are just beginning.

No one knows why this great national party is called Hogmanay. The word itself has been around since at least 1604 when it first appeared in written records. But many of the traditions are much older. Scotland.Org, the Scottish government’s online gateway to everything you ever wanted to know about visiting, working or living in Scotland, suggests it could be Hoguinan’s Old Norman French (a New Years gift). But they also suppose that it is a variation of the Gaelic og maidne (new morning), the Flemish hoog min dag (day or love) or, in a stretch, the angath Saxon haleg monath (holy month).

You get the picture. If even the Scots don’t know the origin of the word for one of their most extravagant celebrations, we are not likely to find out either. None of that, of course, affects the huge public New Years events (the biggest and the biggest). famous in Edinburgh) that illuminate cities and towns across the country.

And, along with the sometimes terrifying celebrations, street festivals, entertainment, and wild fire festivals, people still practice rituals and traditions dating back hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. Here are five you may not have heard before.

Five Hogmanay Traditions

In addition to concerts, street parties, fireworks and more land-based fire shows, as well as the consumption of one of Scotland’s most famous products, Scotch whiskey, a number of very old traditions associated with Hogmanay in Scotland can still be found in smaller communities and private celebrations:

  1. Redding the house – Like the annual spring cleaning in some communities, or the ritual cleaning of the kitchen for the Jewish festival of Passover, families traditionally did a major cleaning to prepare the house for the New Year. Sweeping the fireplace was very important and there was a knack for reading ashes, as some people read tea leaves. Another part of the annual cleanup, which is probably more remembered than what was observed these days, was paying off all outstanding debts before the stroke of midnight. After the big cleaning, at a time of year when fire plays such an important role in celebrations, it is natural to bring a little of it into the renovated home. And, of course, soap, water, and dustpans don’t really deal with all those people from the invisible realms.
  1. First step After midnight, the neighbors visit each other, with traditional symbolic gifts such as sweet cake or black bun, a kind of fruit cake. The visitor, in turn, is offered a small whiskey, a glass . A friend of mine who remembers the first step also remembers that if you had a lot of friends they would offer you a large quantity of whiskey. The first person to enter a home on New Years, the first foot, could bring luck for the entire year to come. The most fortunate was a tall, dark and handsome man. The most unfortunate is a redhead and the most unfortunate of all redheads. And, in case you’re wondering why a red-haired woman is the most unfortunate, remember that the Viking raiders first brought blonde hair to Scotland. And if a Viking woman were the first to enter, she would surely be followed by an angry Viking man.
  1. Bonfires and fire festivals Scotland’s fire festivals in Hogmanay and later in January may have pagan or Viking origins. Using fire to purify and drive away evil spirits is an ancient idea. Fire is at the center of the Hogmanay celebrations in Stonehaven, Comrie and Biggar and has recently become an element of the Edinburgh Hogmanay celebration.
  2. The Song of Auld Lang Syne All over the world, people sing Robert Burns’ version of this traditional Scottish air. How it became the New Year’s song is something of a mystery. At Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, people come together for what is said to be the world’s largest Auld Lang Syne.
  1. The salvation of the house This is a very old rural tradition that involved blessing the house and livestock with holy water from a local stream. Although it was almost extinct, in recent years it has undergone a revival. After the water blessing, the woman of the house was supposed to go from room to room with a smoking juniper branch, filling the house with purifying smoke (there is that smoking juniper branch again). Of course, being a Scottish celebration, the traditional chaos would surely follow. Once everyone in the household was coughing and choking on the smoke, the windows would open and the revived drams (or two or three) of whiskey would be revived.

Why is Hogmanay so important to Scots?

Although some of these traditions are ancient, the Hogmanay celebrations were elevated in importance after the prohibition of Christmas in the 16th and 17th centuries. Under Oliver Cromwell, Parliament banned Christmas celebrations in 1647. The ban was lifted after Cromwell’s fall in 1660. But in Scotland, the stricter Scottish Presbyterian Church had discouraged Christmas celebrations as they had no basis in the Bible. , as early as 1583. After Cromwell’s ban was lifted elsewhere, the Christmas festivities continued to be discouraged in Scotland.

In fact, Christmas remained a normal working day in Scotland until 1958 and Boxing Day did not become a national holiday until much later.

But the urge to party, exchange gifts and put the products of Scotland’s famous distilleries to good use could not be restrained. Indeed, Hogmanay became Scotland’s premier outlet for the mid-winter drive to chase away the darkness with light, warmth and the abundant water-of-life festivities.

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