Hogmanay is the Scottish term for New Year’s Eve celebrations.
There’s no clear origin for the word – some say it’s a corrupt version of the Greek words for ‘holy month’.
Until pretty recently, the Scots didn’t do Christmas – the Protestant Reformation effectively banned the holiday for 400 years. Christmas Day wasn’t a public holiday in Scotland until 1958, and Boxing Day wasn’t one until 1974.
As well as partying, the Scots observe a number of traditions.
First-footing is perhaps the most widely practiced social ritual and deeply embedded tradition of Hogmanay. The moment the clock strikes midnight, lads and lassies across Scotland start bee lining for the homes of loved ones, friends and families, bearing gifts and endless banter. The purpose is to provide good vibes for times ahead and to be the first across the threshold, as the first-footer sets the precedent for the brand new year. The first person to enter the house brings gifts such as food or coal.
First-footing traditionally affects the household’s fortunes for the next year – ideally, the first-footer is a tall, dark man, so if your only option is a short blonde woman, you’re in trouble.
Other traditions include cleaning the house before the start of Hogmanay and singing Auld Lang Syne