"A guid New Year to ane an` a` and mony may ye see!"
While New Year's Eve is celebrated around the world, the Scots
have a long rich heritage associated with this event - and have their own name for it, Hogmanay. Edinburgh's Hogmanay is the most extravagant and bold New Year's Eve celebrations in Europe. The celebrations last four days altogether and include street theatre, music, dancing and fireworks.
The simple answer is no one knows! There are many theories about the derivation of the word - theories range from Old Gaelic, Anglo-Saxon, Old French or Flemish or Scandinavian so take your pick. Hogmanay Traditions
There are many traditions connected to Hogmanay such as cleaning the house on 31st December (including taking out the ashes from the fire in the days when coal fires were common). There is also the superstition to clear all your debts before "the bells" at midnight.
Immediately after midnight it is traditional to sing Robert Burns' "For Auld Lang Syne". Burns claimed it was based on an earlier fragment and certainly the tune was in print over 80 years before he published his version in 1788. "Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne."
The traditional New Year ceremony of yesteryear would also involve people dressing up in the hides of cattle and running around the village being hit by sticks. The festivities would also include the lighting of bonfires, rolling blazing tar barrels down the hill and tossing torches. The torchlight parades and use of fire in the celebrations probably goes back to the Vikings and is reflected in the spectaular firework displays and torchlight parade held in Edinburgh each year.
Perhaps the most revered tradition (and one going back to Viking times) is "First Footing", meaning the first to arrive. The first to set foot in a house after midnight should be a tall, dark stranger who could bring good luck by bringing a lump of coal, whisky and traditional fruit cake known as black bun. Nowadays many people, particularly outside of the cities, retain this tradition and go visiting their friends and neighbours through the night to enjoy a dram of whisky!