Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. I had a great time with family and I’m now over-stocked up with chocolate, amongst other welcome goodies.
Today is our traditional Scottish Hogmanay and although I've probably written about this before, some may not have read it! These days we enjoy the main part of the evening with a final meal of the year at the cosy village restaurant before ‘bringing in the bells’ at home.
At one time, however, this was an even bigger annual holiday up here and the 2nd of January is still a day off for most Scots. When I was a child, each housewife, including my mother, cleaned her home from top to bottom, curtains were changed, everyone in the family had a bath and hair wash (if they hadn't already) and the ashes from the open fire were taken out, ensuring we met the New Year as clean as possible. I’m afraid I didn’t follow that housewifely tradition for long, apart from the shower and hair wash!
Living beside the River Clyde, we used to open the back doors at midnight to hear any ships on the river toot their horn to welcome the New Year. One tradition that still thrives in some places is the dancing. Many halls up and down the country host a ceilidh for Scottish country dancing. The best have a live group with fiddles and accordion – the most toe-tapping sound you’re likely to hear all year!
We usually watch the late evening entertainment on TV brought from Glasgow or Edinburgh, with singing and Scottish dancing and the huge fireworks display at Edinburgh. As twelve o’clock approaches, the ‘bells’ are counted down until the stroke of midnight when we wish each other Happy New Year with a handshake, a kiss, and a toast. And of course Auld Lang Syne is sung all over the world at this time .
Another old tradition must be observed if possible. Each home should have a ‘first footer’ – a tall, dark and handsome man as the first person to enter a house any time after midnight on Hogmanay. He should bring a lump of coal for luck (not so common now!) and some shortbread or cake. Anyone visiting homes over the New Year period will always take something for the host. And of course, it wouldn’t be Hogmanay without the ‘wee dram’ of whisky to toast the New Year.
Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Successful 2017!