Hogmanay is Scotland's New Year's Eve celebration. This is a very festive event, in the large cities it is a massive street party. Some of the festivities include torch processions, fireworks, bagpipes and large bonfires. The Scots seem to celebrate New Year better than anywhere else in the world!
New Year's Eve is a busy day preparing to see the old year out and the new year in. There are several things that are involved in preparing for Hogmanay.
"Redding" the house - cleaning the house before midnight is traditional, as is cleaning out the fireplace. Many believed that they could read the ashes to know what to expect from the coming year. Another tradition called the "Saining" of the household involved the woman of the house purifying each room with a smoldering juniper branch.
People also believed that all debts and loans should be paid off before the New Year began. Entering the new year with outstanding debts was considered unlucky.
Fire plays a big part in Hogmanay. In addition to the torch light processions bonfires are very popular. The use of fire to purify and drive away evil spirits is an ancient idea. It is believed that they cannot have a new year until the old year has gone. Fire is used to "burn up" the old year and make way for the new year. In some towns dummies are made and burned in effigy to symbolize the old year being burned away and letting in the new year.
As in many countries the stroke of midnight brings kissing, well wishing and the singing of Auld Lang Syne.
Another Hogmanay custom is First Footing. It literally means the "first foot" to step into a house in the new year. After midnight, neighbors visit each other, bearing traditional symbolic gifts such as whisky, salt, shortbread, coal and black bun. These gifts were to ensure the household would be safe, warm and have enough to eat for the year. The visitor, in turn, is offered a food and a wee dram of whisky. In order for the household to have good luck in the coming year the "first foot" over the threshold should be a dark haired male. Redheads and blondes, especially women, were considered bad luck.
In the morning the first person awake is supposed to take the Het Pint to the other family members. Het Pint is a mixture of ale, nutmeg, eggs, sugar and whisky. This should give us an idea of the exuberant celebration that occurs for Hogmanay.
Our Hogmanay celebration consisted of "redding the house" and Scottish food. Considering we are in a rental house we figured huge bonfires might not be a great idea. I did want to go First Footing in our new neighborhood. Since no one knows us it would have been great fun to knock on their doors after midnight. But we restrained ourselves....maybe next year in our next neighborhood! At our old house we had neighbors where the women was a redhead and the man tall and dark. She would come over to our house and spend the evening with us on New Year's Eve. When her husband got off of work he would come over to our house, arriving after midnight to be our "first footer". Those were good years so the luck seems to work!
For dinner we had steak pie....
|Scottish Steak Pie|
|Mashed Rutabagas and carrots|
|oatcakes and Scottish cheese|
|a wee dram|
|whisky for Hogmanay|
|not Scottish, but part of our traditions ~ champagne, Chambord, raspberries|
'til next time...