Fireworks over Edinburgh Castle for Hogmanay.

Happy Hogmanay!

Posted by Speakeasy News > Friday 29 December 2023 > Celebrate

Hogmanay is the name for New Year's Eve in Scotland. It was traditionally a much bigger celebration than Christmas in Scotland, and is still a big event. It's associated with many traditions, some which will seem familiar and some specific to Scotland.

As with new year celebrations in many cultures, it's considered bad luck to have a dirty home on Hogmanay (/hɒɡməˈneɪ/, so traditionally families would have a big "spring clean".

Edinburgh starts its Hogmanay celebrations on 29 December with a torchlight procession through the Old Town with plenty of Viking references. (The Vikings, like the Celts, loved a torch!)

Lighting up Hogmanay with the torchlight procession in Edinburgh.

Whether at home, with friends or at the big street parties that have developed in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and other cities in recent decades, you are expected to have a dram (a drink) to bring in the bells. When they chime at midnight, people gather in a circle to sing "Auld Lang Syne", known around the world but written by Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns. Here are Shereen Cutkelvin  and folk band Skerryvore performing on BBC Scotland's  Hogmanay programme. If you want to be authentic, don't cross arms until the second verse ("Here's a haun ma trusty frier") and join in the the enthusiastic jostling for the final chorus!

Caption: Fireworks over Edinburgh Castle bring in the New Year.

Once midnight is past, you can go first footing. Your first foot, the first person to enter your home in the New Year, should come bearing a token of luck for the coming 12 months: a piece of coal to ensure your home will be warm (this is chilly Scotland after all), or food or drink so they will be plentiful. They could bring whisky, shortbread or black bun, a dried fruit Hogmanay delicacy. (Check out the history of and recipe for black bun in the Scotsman article.)

Ne'er Day
If you need a bit of refreshing on 1 January, with the side benefit of raising funds for the RNLI lifeboat association, why not take part in one of the Loony dooks that take place around Scotland. (Loony meaning mad and dook meaning dip.) Willing volunteers plunge into the frigid sea or rivers, here at South Queensferry on the Firth of Forth west of Edinburgh. Fancy dress very much encouraged!

A refreshing start to the new year, complete with tartan Tam o'shanters.

Webpicks Useful websites and online tools for classroom use
> Robert Burns Digital Resources
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> Sir Walter Scott
Notion(s) culturelle(s) : "Des repères géographiques, historiques et culturels" "Rencontres avec d’autres cultures"