What are the actual origins of Hogmanay, and why should a tall dark-haired stranger be a welcome visitor after midnight?
Traditional Hogmanay celebrations are thought to have been introduced buy the invading Vikings over a thousand years ago when the Winter Solstice or the shortest day, was a day to celebrate accompanied by some serious partying. In fact, up until the 1950’s, New Year was historically, the only official holiday in Scotland as Christmas Day was a working day and the New Year was when family and friends would meet up to party and exchange gifts. This led to many of the traditions that are associated with Hogmanay, including cleaning the house, taking out the ashes, and generally being in good order to welcome in the bells.
Hospitality and a spirit of generosity are at the core of the Hogmanay tradition. Immediately after midnight it is traditional to sing Robert Burns‘ “Auld Lang Syne”. Robert Burns, a famous 18th century poet from Ayrshire, published his version of this popular poem in 1788, although the tune was in print over 80 years before this.
“First footing” (or the “first foot” in the house after midnight) is still common across Scotland. 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 coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and a wee dram of whisky. The dark-haired male bit is believed to be a throwback to the Viking days, when a big blonde stranger arriving on your door step with a big axe meant big trouble, and probably not a very happy New Year!
We hope that wherever you celebrate Hogmanay you have a happy and prosperous new year, and as they say in these parts, ‘Lang may yer lump reek’.
We are holding a traditional Hogmanay celebration and 5 course tasting menu. Call the hotel for more information.