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The History Of Hogmanay

We hope you all had a great Christmas and that your real Scottish grown Crimbotrees tree is still standing proud. In Scotland festivities don’t stop at Christmas, we still have Hogmanay to go!

Hogmanay – A History

New Year’s Eve around the world is celebrated in many different ways. We’re all familiar with the Scottish Hogmanay traditions, including first footing, which are steeped in Scottish history.

Some historians claim that Hogmanay originated from a winter solstice festival brought to Scotland by the Vikings, for whom the coming of the shortest day was a cause for celebration (the Vikings enjoyed a good party), given that they lived so far north and saw so little daylight in the winter months.

A quick Wikipedia search will result in several theories about the roots of the word Hogmanay – and no one’s entirely sure about the correct one. It’s claimed to have Norse, Gaelic and even French roots and different pronunciations depending on where in Scotland you’re from. Either way, it’s a great word, unique to our shores.

Viking influences

You don’t have to look far to see the Viking influences mixed with pagan traditions to form things like the Hogmanay torchlight processions through many Scottish towns and cities, symbolising the return of the sun.

First footing

According to Scottish superstition and tradition, the first person to enter a household after midnight on Hogmanay (the first footer) will dictate its fortunes for that year. You’re set to have a great new year if your first-footer is a dark-haired male bearing a coin, lump of coal, piece of shortbread and a wee dram.

Hold the laundry

Don’t do the washing on New Year’s Day! You may risk washing the coming year’s good fortune down the drain, according to superstition. Wearing something new on 1st January encourages the likelihood of more new clothes in the coming year.

Bearing gifts

Not all traditions have survived to the present day. In years gone by, gifts were given in Scotland on the first Monday of the New Year. An old Scots word for ‘gift’ was ‘Handsel’, hence Handsel Day. Nowadays we tend to keep gift giving for Christmas.

We hope you had a very happy and safe Hogmanay and all the best for the New Year from Crimbotrees.