Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy Hogmanay and a Guid New Year

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!


Teresa Ashby said...

Happy Hogmanay, Rosemary! Do you still listen for the ships? Not so many seem to do it these days, but when I was a child we used to laugh when they started blowing before midnight and my mum would say they'd got merry and decided to welcome the new year in early! We used to sometimes have the first footer with the piece of coal too. Such lovely memories around the new year.
I hope 2017 is a wonderful year for you xx

Anonymous said...

Hi Rosemary, We still open the window in the vain hope of hearing the ship horns of years gone by. The new tradition seems to be fireworks which we can see across the Clyde too. The days of my better half fitting the first footer requirements have long departed also, but our 'babe' gets that role now! Just heard we'll have our firstborn to ourselves for Ne'er Day lunch so 2017 will be off to the perfect start. Have a stoater of a night! Love Catriona XO

Rosemary Gemmell said...

How lovely that you listened for the ships too, Teresa (love your mum's quip) - and had first footers! If I remember, I still listen for the ships but they're not quite so near now and far fewer of them. All the very best to you and yours for 2017.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Catriona - I think you're slightly nearer the river than us so hope you hear a toot or two! Yes, you definitely still have a first footer there. Have a wonderful New Year's day with your firstborn! x

Bill Kirton said...

We used to listen to the ships too, here in Aberdeen. Lots of them are in port this year (because of the oil downturn), so there should be plenty to hear. I thought the coal was supposed to represent heat, plus silver (20p) for wealth and whisky for ... well... Happy Hogmanay Rosemary (and Vikki).

Wendy's Writing said...

I love the idea of listening out for the ships tooting their horns. Wishing you a fabulous 2017 xx

Patsy said...

Gary always opens a window to let the old year out and new one in – a tradition he got from his mother who is Scottish, although perhap this idea isn't. We are expected to bring her a wee something on our first visit of the year though (I've kept back a chocolate liquer with whisky in it).

Happy hogmanay - and best wishes for 2017.

Carolb said...

Old New Year traditions are good, Rosemary.

My Dad always had to bring the piece of coal in, he was tall and had dark hair, and as I was a little girl of course he was handsome.:)

Have a wonderful Hogmanay, and may 2017 be a good year for you all.

Julia Thorley said...

I hope you're well after all that celebrating. We opened our windows at midnight last night and for the first time that either of us could remember the church bells were ringing. They made a lovley backdrop to the fireworks.

Maria said...

Hello, and a belated Happy Hogmanay to you!
It was interesting to read about your traditions.
In our house, we put money out for each member of the family on December 31st, and bring it in on New Year's Day, the idea is that by doing so you are ensuring money coming into the house for the year. I'd never heard of this tradition before I met my husband, and although he is from Lincoln, I understand it's an Irish tradition.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hope you heard the ships, Bill! I can't remember the exact details of first footing gifts and I'm sure they'll vary in different areas. Have a great 2017.

Thanks, Wendy - hope yours is everything you wish it to be!

Think I've heard that idea, Patsy. Have a wonderful 2017!

Lovely to hear your dad brought in the piece of coal, Carol - wishing you all you wish yourself!

The church bells would be lovely to welcome another year, Julia! Wishing you all the best in 2017.

What a lovely tradition, Maria! I've never heard of it even though my grandparents were of Irish stock but I do like it. All the best for 2017!

Joanna said...

Wishing you a very happy, healthy and successful New year, Rosemary, with thanks for all your lovely posts and all your kind and much appreciated support in 2016. xxx

Frances Garrood said...

Belated happy Hogmanay, Rosemary!