Dec 31 2012
Wishing Our Contributors, Actors, Listeners and Readers a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year
(Scots and Scottish English: [ˌhɔɡməˈneː] hog-mə-nay) is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year (Gregorian calendar) in the Scottish manner. It is, however, normally only the start of a celebration which lasts through the night until the morning of New Year’s Day (1 January) or, in some cases, 2 January which is a Scottish Bank Holiday.
The roots of Hogmanay perhaps reach back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Norse, as well as incorporating customs from the Gaelic celebration of Samhain. The Vikings celebrated Yule, which later contributed to the Twelve Days of Christmas, or the “Daft Days” as they were sometimes called in Scotland. The winter festival went underground with the Protestant Reformation and ensuing years, but re-emerged near the end of the 17th century.
There are many customs, both national and local, associated with Hogmanay. The most widespread national custom 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 often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as salt (less common today), coal, shortbread, whisky, and black bun (a rich fruit cake) intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. Food and drink (as the gifts) are then given to the guests. This may go on throughout the early hours of the morning and well into the next day (although modern days see people visiting houses well into the middle of January). The first-foot is supposed to set the luck for the rest of the year. Traditionally, tall dark men are preferred as the first-foot.
Each area of Scotland often developed its own particular Hogmanay ritual.
|An example of a local Hogmanay custom is the fireball swinging that takes place in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire in north-east Scotland. This involves local people making up ‘balls’ of chicken wire filled with old newspaper, sticks, rags, and other dry flammable material up to a diameter of 2 feet, each attached to about 3 feet of wire, chain or nonflammable rope. As the Old Town House bell sounds to mark the new year, the balls are set alight and the swingers set off up the High Street from the Mercat Cross to the Cannon and back, swinging the burning balls around their heads as they go.At the end of the ceremony, any fireballs that are still burning are cast into the harbour. Many people enjoy this display, and large crowds flock to see it, with 12,000 attending the 2007/2008 event. In recent years, additional attractions have been added to entertain the crowds as they wait for midnight, such as fire poi, a pipe band, street drumming and a firework display after the last fireball is cast into the sea. The festivities are now streamed live over the Internet.|
In the east coast fishing communities and Dundee, first-footers used to carry a decorated herring while in Falkland in Fife, local men would go in torchlight procession to the top of the Lomond Hills as midnight approached. Bakers in St Andrews would bake special cakes for their Hogmanay celebration (known as ‘Cake Day’) and distribute them to local children.
Pic: Picture Source
|In Glasgow and the central areas of Scotland, the tradition is to hold Hogmanay parties involving singing, dancing, the eating of steak pie or stew, storytelling and drink; these usually extend into the daylight hours of 1 January.Institutions also had their own traditions. For example, amongst the Scottish regiments,|
the officers had to wait on the men at special dinners while at the bells, the Old Year is piped out of barrack gates. The sentry then challenges the new escort outside the gates: ‘Who goes there?’ The answer is ‘The New Year, all’s well.’
An old custom in the Highlands, which has survived to a small extent and seen some degree of revival, is to celebrate Hogmanay with the saining (Scots for ‘protecting, blessing’) of the household and livestock. Early on New Year’s morning, householders drink and then sprinkle ‘magic water’ from ‘a dead and living ford‘ around the house (a ‘dead and living ford’ refers to a river ford that is routinely crossed by both the living and the dead). After the sprinkling of the water in every room, on the beds and all the inhabitants, the house is sealed up tight and branches of juniper are set on fire and carried throughout the house and byre. The juniper smoke is allowed to thoroughly fumigate the buildings until it causes sneezing and coughing among the inhabitants. Then all the doors and windows are flung open to let in the cold, fresh air of the new year. The woman of the house then administers ‘a restorative’ from the whisky bottle, and the household sits down to its New Year breakfast.
“Auld Lang Syne”
The Hogmanay custom of singing “Auld Lang Syne” has become common in many countries. “Auld Lang Syne” is a traditional poem reinterpreted by Robert Burns, which was later set to music. It is now common for this to be sung in a circle of linked arms that are crossed over one another as the clock strikes midnight for New Year’s Day, although it is only intended that participants link arms at the beginning of the final verse, co-ordinating with the lines of the song which contain the lyrics to do so. Typically, it is only in Scotland this practice is carried out correctly.
As in much of the world, the largest Scottish cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen hold all-night celebrations, as do Stirling and Inverness. The Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations are among the largest in the world, although in 2003-4 most of the organised events were cancelled at short notice due to very high winds. The Stonehaven Fireballs went ahead as planned, however, with some 6000 people braving the stormy weather to watch 42 fireball swingers process along the High Street.
Similarly, the 2006-07 celebrations in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling were all cancelled on the day, again due to high winds and heavy rain. The Aberdeen celebration, however, went ahead, and was opened by the pop music group, Wet Wet Wet.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j “Hagmane”. Dictionary of the Scots Language. Retrieved 21 December 2011.
- ^ a b c d e f Robinson, Mairi (ed) The Concise Scots Dictionary (1985) The Scottish National Dictionary Association ISBN 0-08-028491-4
- ^ Campbell, John Gregorson (1900, 1902, 2005) The Gaelic Otherworld. Edited by Ronald Black. Edinburgh, Birlinn Ltd. ISBN 1-84158-207-7 p. 575: “‘Hogmanay’ is French in origin. In northern French dialect it was hoguinané, going back to Old French aguillaneuf, meaning a gift given on New Year’s eve or the word cried out in soliciting it.”
- ^ Encyclopaedia Brittanica Vol I (1823) 6th Edition
- ^ a b Chambers, R. Popular Rhymes of Scotland Chambers (1841) 3rd Edition
- ^ Hogmanay 2007. Retrieved 14 May 2009.
- ^ Fraser, Sir James George The Golden Bough 1922
- ^ Kelley, Ruth The Book of Hallowe’en (1919)
- ^ a b Folk-lore – A Quarterly Review of Myth, Tradition, Institution and Custom Vol II (1891) The Folk-lore Society
- ^ Broderick, G. A Handbook of Late Spoken Manx Niemeyer (1984) ISBN 3-484-42904-6
- ^ Fargher, Douglas Fockleyr Baarle-Gaelg (1979) Shearwater Press ISBN 0-904980-23-5
- ^ Moore, A.W. Manx Ballads & Music (1896) G R Johnson
- ^ “Originn of Hogmaney”. Townsville Daily Bulletin. 5 January 1940. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- ^ MacBain, A. Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language (1896)
- ^ Dwelly, E. The Illustrated Gaelic-English Dictionary (1941)
- ^ Mark, Colin The Gaelic-English Dictionary (2004) Routledge ISBN 0-415-29761-3
- ^ a b Harrison, W. Mona Miscellany (1869) Manx Society
- ^ Chambers, R. Popular Rhymes of Scotland (1841) W&R Chambers p. 165
- ^ a b Repp, Thorl On the Scottish Formula of Congratulation on New Year’s Eve – “Hogmanay, Trollalay” (1831) Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland Vol IV
- ^ Percy, Thomas Percy’s Reliques (1765)
- ^ “OED”. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- ^ a b Stonehaven Fireball Association photos and videos of festivities. Retrieved 31 December 2007.
- ^ Aberdeen Press and Journal 2 January 2008. “around 12,000 turned out in Stonehaven to watch the town’s traditional fireball ceremony.” Retrieved 3 January 2008.
- ^ ‘Hogmanay Traditions‘ at Scotland’s Tourism Board. Retrieved 21 December 2007.
- ^ McNeill, F. Marian (1961). “X Hogmany Rites and Superstitions”. The Silver Bough, Vol.3: A Calendar of Scottish National Festivals, Halloween to Yule. Glasgow: William MacLellan. p. 113.ISBN 0-948474-04-1.
- ^ “Queen stays at arm’s length“. Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 5 January 2000.
- ^ 1692 Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence (ed. 2) p. 82.
- ^ ‘Scottish Hogmanay Customs and Traditions at New Year‘ at About Aberdeen. Retrieved 21 December 2007.
- ^ ‘History of the Stonehaven Fireballs Ceremony‘, 3 January 2008, at Stonehaven Fireballs Association. Retrieved 3 January 2008.
- ^ ‘Weather spoils Hogmanay parties‘, 1 January 2007, at BBC News, Scotland. Retrieved 21 December 2007.
You can also now download a Celtic Myth Podshow App from the iTunes store. This is the most convenient and reliable way to access the Celtic Myth Podshow on your iPhone or iPod Touch. You’re always connected to the latest episode, and our App users have access to exclusive bonus content, just touch and play! To find out more visit the iTunes Store or our Description Page.
You can now also find an Android version of the App which works identically to the iPhone version. You can find it on Handster at http://www.handster.com/celtic_myth.html or by using the QR code opposite. It’s also found on the Opera Marketplace as well as AppBrain in the US.
If you come to the site and listen or listen from one of our players – have you considered subscribing? It’s easy and you automatically get the episodes on your computer when they come out. If you’re unsure about the whole RSS/Subscribing thing take a look at our Help page.