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Origin And Customs Of Hogmanay - Blog Post

Courtesy – http://news.travel.aol.com

Hogmanay is a Scottish term that means the last day of the year. There are huge celebrations on this occasion which continues to go along with the New Year. It is celebrated in the Scottish tradition which for some goes on till the 2nd of January which is a bank holiday. The roots of this festival can be associated with the Norse, Goidelic and French etymologies. The origin of Hogmanay goes back to the celebrations of the solstice that occurs in the winter time among the Norse. This winter festival in Scotland, discontinued for some time but was resumed later in the end of the 17th century.

Out of the many local and national customs performed, the most popular one is first- footing which begins at midnight. The tradition goes that the first person that crosses the threshold of a neighbour or a friend gives particular symbolic gifts like coal, salt, whisky, fruit cake which would bring good luck to the householder. Typically, tall dark men are preferred first foot. The guests are served food and drinks and this may continue right from the early morning till the next day.


There are many local Hogmanay customs in different areas of Scotland. In Stonehaven, north- east of Scotland, there is this particular custom of fireball swinging which involves making balls of chicken wire that is packed with old rags and newspapers. As soon as the clock strikes twelve, people light the fire and swing the burning balls. Fireballs that are still burning at the end of the ceremony are cast into the harbour. This presents a spectacular view that many people gather to enjoy the site. Recently many other attractions has been added like street drumming, fireworks display and pipe band. Many people also buy fireworks to celebrate with friends and family at private parties. During this time you can find a lot of cheap fireworks deals too.

Another interesting local custom which takes place in Moray is burning of the clavier. The clavier is basically a bonfire made of casks split into two. In the central areas of Scotland, the Hogmanay celebrations involve singing, dancing, eating stew and drinking which continues till the early hours of 1st of January. In the Highlands, early on the New Year morning the householders drink and sprinkle magic water to protect and bless their households and livestock. They set up fire till everyone starts sneezing from the smoke and then open the doors and windows to let the fresh air of the New Year come in.

Maria Ereku

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