Scotland has always been synonymous with Hogmanay and there are few Towns and Cities not holding a New Year event of some kind.
The word Hogmanay (prounced hog mah nay) is Scottish for the end of the year and the origins of it are thought to be a mixture of Gaelic and Norman French.
It wasn’t until 1958 that Christmas Day was designated as a public holiday in Scotland and as such, they continued to celebrate the pagan Yuletide including of course the Winter Solstice and Hogmanay.
No New Years Eve event would be complete without a rendition of Auld Lang Syne which today is sung widely in most of the British speaking world and not just for the new year but as a closing song for scouting jamborees and graduation ceremonies. The song itself was originally a poem written by Robert Burns, the 18th century Scottish poet and was set to a tune from a traditional folk song. Auld Lang Syne is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most sung piece in English.
New Year is said to be a time to welcome strangers and friends alike with warmth and love and it allows us to rid ourselves of past differences and move on into a new year.
As a little girl, with great-grandparents who were Scottish, my nanny always followed the ‘old traditions’ as she would describe. My lovely dad used to drive over to my nanny’s just after midnight to ‘first foot’ at her house. He was the quintessential man for the job as a strapping 6 feet plus in height with dark brown eyes and black hair. He used to take a list of things with him: a coin – for good luck, salt – flavour, wood/coal – warmth, whiskey (a miniature) for good cheer (and of course to toast the arrival of the New Year) and an evergreen branch (we were OK with that as mum was a florist) for long life.
Check out some of the events taking place around Scotland this NYE:
Without a doubt one of the best known of all the Hogmanay Events in Scotland with a full list of top-class entertainment, food and refreshments, a Christmas Market, and of course the second biggest firework display in the UK. Whilst the fireworks can be clearly seen from across the City, Hogmanay HQ is the place to be but with tickets at £205.00 – £225.00 it is quite pricey. Prosecco and Canapes are served on arrival at the venue with a full hot and cold buffet for dinner, live music, entertainment, private bars and of course premium seating to watch the spectacular fireworks over Edinburgh Castle at midnight.
Stirling Castle is one of the largest and best-known castles across Scotland. It was the Royal residence to innumerable Kings and Queens over the years as well as being a powerful stronghold, thanks mainly to its position at the top of a hill surrounded by steep cliffs on three of the sides making it almost impenetrable. Most of the castle was built between 1490 – 1600 but there have been some alterations added to the structure as late as the 18th century.
Several Kings and Queens were also crowned at Stirling including Mary Queen of Scots who also had fireworks at her wedding to Henry Stuart – Lord Darnley, and her son, the soon to be infamous King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) who went on to be the King who they tried to kill in the Gunpowder Plot.
This stunning City is Scotland’s third highest in terms of population and once again has a full entertainment package on offer for Hogmanay. The evening will include an ABBA tribute band, street party, bagpipes and fireworks will be launched from His Majesty’s Theatre rooftop in spectacular fashion. There is also the Stonehaven Fireballs ceremony which has been taking place for hundreds of years but records of it only go back to the early part of the twentieth century. Todays ‘swingers’ number around 45 or so and it brings in around 1200 spectators annually. Street entertainment, the lilting sound of the bagpipes and drummers fill the air as the parade of fireball swingers make their way from the Town Hall to the Harbourside before launching their balls into the water. The event is concluded with a firework display at around 12.30pm but rest assured whilst the official merriment is at an end, the people of Stonehaven will keep the party going till the small hours so if you are looking for a close knit affair with that Scottish flavour, why not find somewhere to stay nearby.
INVERNESS – RED HOT HIGHLAND FLING
Celebrations take place at Northern Meeting park with a concert, fireworks and a huge amount of entertainment with award-winning acts (Scottish of course) which will bring something fresh to the event.
MUSSLEBURGH – EAST LOTHIAN
This family-friendly celebration includes traditional Scottish and contemporary arts, live music, singers and storytelling, pantomime, puppeteers and food. They also hold a charming lantern parade which includes hundreds of illuminated lanterns being paraded accompanied by local pipes and drums from 6.30pm before a majestic firework display from around 7.30pm free at the Fisherrow Links.
So, for a traditional and friendly Scottish Hogmanay celebration, get yourself up there and share in some of the magic.