Hogmanay, the Gaelic new year
The Gaelic new year
The origin of this festivity roots back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Norse as well as the incorporation of some Gaelic customs like the Samhain, known as the end of the harvesting year. The Scottish Protestant Reformation saw Christmas as a “Papist” celebration so Hogmanay became more traditional in Scotland.
The general custom in Hogmanay is the practice of first-footing, which starts immediately after midnight. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour and normally includes the giving of symbolic gifts such as shortbread, black bun or whisky with the intention to bring luck for the rest of the year to the householder. Food and drinks are then given to the guests and this may go on throughout the early hours of the morning and even into the next day.
Every region in Scotland has developed their own Hogmanay rituals, for example in the central areas of Scotland, the tradition is to celebrate parties that involve singing, dancing, eating, storytelling and drinking. But there are also public celebrations. The Edinburgh Hogmanay starts on 30 December with a torchlight procession with over 35,000 participants and spectators that carry torches from the Old Town to Calton Hill. On 31 December the celebration continues and a big party is hold in Princes Street and its Gardens that can gather thousands of people who attend to the concerts and shows organized for that night.
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