"All things are wearisome, more than one can say." - Ecclesiastes 1:8

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hogmanay

A short history:
"It may not be widely known but Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and virtually banned in Scotland for around 400 years, from the end of the 17th century to the 1950s. The reason for this has its roots in the Protestant Reformation when the Kirk portrayed Christmas as a Popish or Catholic feast and therefore had to be banned. Many Scots had to work over Christmas and their winter solstice holiday was therefore at New Year when family and friends gathered for a party and exchange presents, especially for the children, which came to be called hogmanay."
Although our Calvinist friends weren't too keen on Hogmanay either...
"It is ordinary among some Plebians in the South of Scotland, to go about from door to door upon New Year's Eve, crying Hagmane."
Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence, 1693.
It goes on to talk about first-footing and stuff...
"An integral part of the Hogmanay partying, which continues very much today, is to welcome friends and strangers, with warm hospitality and of course a kiss to wish everyone a Guid New Year. The underlying belief is to clear out the vestiges of the old year, have a clean break and welcome in a young, New Year on a happy note.

"First footing" (that is, the "first foot" in the house after midnight) is still common 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. These days, however, whisky and perhaps shortbread are the only items still prevalent (and available)."
I'd suggest that the tradition has become a little more straightforward in recent years. Now what you do is get even drunker than usual in a very busy place that you then can't get home from because it's after three in the morning and half of Glasgow is looking for a taxi.

Aura best for 2010! x

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