As the clock ticks towards the ‘witching hour’ and the end of 2014, north of the border in Scotland the celebration of Hogmanay will begin in earnest. While the rest of us in England will welcome in the New Year of 2015 in our way, perhaps with a drink or two with friends and family, Scotland takes its partying to another level and to ensure that they all have at least the chance of letting their hair down, they take an extra Bank Holiday to recover!

‘Hogmanay’ is the Scots’ word for the last day of the year (according to Wikipedia at least) and marks the Gregorian calendar’s timing for when the New Year begins, although the word’s first usage seems unclear and it may have been introduced to the Scots by the French.

There are many traditions associated with the celebration, including ‘first-footing’ which is deemed to begin straight after midnight. It relates to the quaint custom of being the first person across a friend or neighbour’s threshold and the giving of a small (inexpensive) gift to mark the occasion to bring luck to the householder, such as a piece of shortbread (for which the Scots are renown) or a small dram of whisky. In return, the guest is commonly offered sustenance in the form of food and drink. Superstition has it that the ‘first-foot’ should preferably belong to a tall, dark man, although one wonders if that custom is favoured by single women within the household!

Those familiar with visits to Edinburgh will be well versed in their New Year celebrations, with thousands of locals and outsiders gathering around the city centre for an evening of musical entertainment in the form of a mass street party, with a colourful fireworks display in the area in and around the iconic and imposing Edinburgh Castle, as well as a funfair in the gardens. Indeed their Festivities began yesterday evening with the Torchlight Procession around parts of the city. Of course, no Hogmanay celebration would be complete without a dram or two of a local tipple or two of your preferred beverage.

Other parts of Scotland have their own unique traditions, such as fireball swinging in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, or in the Highlands they may celebrate by ‘saining’ (suggesting protection or a blessing) of one’s household or the livestock they own.

No doubt a few verses of the traditional New Year standard will be given a hearty rendition across the UK and even the world (although in the Southern hemisphere they may well have already exhausted their vocal chords having seen in the start of 2015 several hours earlier), as ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is sung.

Those who do not or can not venture out can enjoy their own musical extravaganza on terrestrial television, with Jools Holland laying on his annual Hootenanny show, which will welcome in the New Year with a variety of eclectic guests including Ronnie Spector, Ed Sheeran, Paolo Nutini and Wilko Johnson, as well as his own excellent Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.

Whatever format your own celebrations take this evening (quiet or raucous), hopefully it will be an enjoyable one and it only leaves me to wish you a Happy New Year for 2015.
Don't miss our page on Facebook!
Click to read more