Hogmanay is a huge deal in Scotland – the New Years celebration is even bigger than Christmas
Happy Hogmanay, the foreigner Fans! Hogmanay is the Scottish word for the new year. The word has been around for at least 1604, but researchers are not sure where it came from. The traditional festival is however much older.
You might be wondering how Hogmanay came to be so important to the Scots. According to TravelSavvyChristmas was banned in Scotland in the 16th and 17th centuries and was discouraged for quite a while afterwards. Christmas didn’t even become a national holiday until 1958, so Hogmanay was the perfect occasion for the end of the year festivities.
Hogmanay celebrations range from large public festivals in major Scottish towns to more traditional home celebrations. We were able to attend a Hogmanay celebration at the foreigner Season 3, episode 8, a big party in Lallybroch with feast and dance.
Diana Gabaldon showed us Hogmanay celebrations in Voyager and The Fiery Cross
If you remember, in season 3 and Traveler, it is in Hogmanay that Jamie Fraser meets Laoghaire again. He reminded Claire of the celebration:
The house was bright that night, with candles lit in the windows and bunches of holly and ivy attached to the staircase and doorposts. There weren’t as many pipers in the Highlands as before Culloden, but one had been found, along with a violinist, and the music floated through the stairwell, mixed with the intoxicating smell of punch in the sky. rum, plum cake, squirts of almonds, and Savoie cookies.
We were able to see Hogmanay at the Ridge in The Cross of Fire. Roger acted as the first foot, who visited the Great House and the neighboring houses with the traditional gifts of salt, an egg, wood and whiskey. He was chosen because a tall, handsome man with dark hair and the first to visit your house is considered lucky. Redheads seemingly bring bad luck, so Jamie had to go into hiding.
Ancient traditions still play a role in Hogmanay celebrations in Scotland today
TravelSavvy noted that there are five ancient Hogmanay traditions. The first is to “blush the house”, where you clean your house, sweep your chimney and “[go] from room to room carrying a smoldering juniper branch to deter evil spirits and drive away disease.
They also talked about the tradition of the first foot. Neighbors visit each other after midnight with token gifts and receive a glass of whiskey. Red-haired women are especially unlucky because in the old days it was assumed that a Viking man would follow.
The other traditions are the fire festivals, the song Auld Lang Syne, and “to cleanse the house” or “to bless the house and the cattle with holy water from a local stream”. This would be followed by a woman with a steaming juniper branch (again!), And everyone would be revived from the smoke with a few glasses of whiskey.
Edinburgh hosts a huge three-day Hogmanay celebration every year
Edinburgh is a well-known place to celebrate Hogmanay. This year for the pandemic they will be presenting swarm drone shows narrated by famous Scots on edinburghshogmanay.com from December 29 to 31. However, plans are already in place to resume normal festivities in 2021.
On December 30, 2021, there will be a torchlight procession on the Royal Mile according to Visit Scotland. It will be followed by a big street party in Princes Street, midnight fireworks and the biggest Auld Lang Syne sing around the world on december 31st. Then on January 1, 2022, you can get rid of your whiskey headache in the ‘Loony Dook’, an icy dip in the River Forth.
How are you going to celebrate Hogmanay? Tell us in the comments below.
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