Hogmanay

 

The magical firework display and torchlight procession in Edinburgh - and throughout many cities in Scotland - is reminiscent of the ancient custom at Scottish Hogmanay pagan parties hundreds of years ago.

 

The traditional New Year ceremony of yesteryear would involve people dressing up in the hides of cattle and running around the village being hit by sticks. The festivities would also include the lighting of bonfires, rolling blazing tar barrels down the hill and tossing torches. Animal hide was also wrapped around sticks and ignited which produced a smoke that was believed to be very effective to ward off evil spirits. The smoking stick was also known as a Hogmanay.

 

"First footing" (that is, the "first foot" in the house after midnight) is not as common as it used to be in Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house, the first foot should be male, dark (believed to be a throwback to the Viking days when blond strangers arriving on your doorstep meant trouble) and should bring symbolic coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and whisky.

 

There are traditions before midnight such as cleaning the house on 31st December (including taking out the ashes from the fire in the days when coal fires were common). There is also the superstition to clear all your debts before "the bells" at midnight.

Selected Dances

(click for more holiday folkore and background information)

Auld Lang Syne

Farewell to the old year with hopes for the new. Happy New Year to all from Scottish Country Dance of the Day!

Auld Lang Syne

Hogmanay

Mrs. Lambert's Black Bun

Originally enjoyed on Christmas and Twelfth Night, Black Bun is now consumed year round, but most traditionally on Hogmanay Night. The great Scottish folklorist F. Marian McNeill writes: “Black bun is the old Scottish Twelfth Night Cake which was transferred to Hogmanay after the banning of Christmas and its subsidiary festival, Uphalieday, or Twelfth Night, by the Reformers.” So, enjoy your fierce raisin devils and gay currant sprites with impunity - recipe included!

Mrs. Lambert's Black Bun

Hogmanay

First Foot and Friend

The word Hogmanay has taken on various meanings at one time, and has meant a new year’s gift for children, usually of fruit, bread, or oatcakes. “First footing” (or the “first foot” in the house after midnight) is a still common tradition across Scotland. In general, to ensure good luck for the house the first foot should be a dark-haired male, and he should bring with him symbolic pieces of a silver coin, bread or black bun, salt, coal, and a wee dram of whisky to represent financial prosperity, food, flavour, warmth, and good cheer respectively. However, historically, regional variations for the preferred first foot varied widely. in parts of Fife, for example, red-haired men with flat feet were preferred, while in parts of Victorian England, a first-footed ginger-haired man (or one whose eyebrows joined), was considered a bad omen!

First Foot and Friend

New Year's Day

Lang May Your Lum Reek

The classic Hogmanay greeting, "Lang May Your Lum Reek," literally meaning ‘long may your chimney smoke’, is also the best way to wish someone a long and healthy life. And should you choose to augment this classic line, you can append "Wi' ither folks coal! (With other people's coal!), an add-on said to have originated in Edinburgh!🏭

Lang May Your Lum Reek

New Year's Day

Hogmanay & New Year's Dance Index

(click for dance description or cribs)

Jan    Feb    Mar    Apr    May    Jun    Jul    Aug    Sep    Oct    Nov    Dec

The majority of dance descriptions referenced on this site have been taken from the

 

Scottish Country Dancing Dictionary or the

Scottish Country Dancing Database 

 

Snapshots of dance descriptions are provided as an overview only.  As updates may have occurred, please click the dance description to be forwarded to a printable dance description or one of the official reference sources.

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