Monday, 31 December 2012



"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.
OK, so it's a bit of a big deal here in Scotland and nobody really knows for absolute certainty from where it originates. The fact is that it did!

The festival of 'Christmas' was all but banned in Scotland until as late as the 1950s, so our celebrations were more about welcoming in the new year and, to this day, celebrate we most certainly do - all over Scotland and the Scottish Isles.

The often ridiculed traditions of tartan, shortbread, whisky and bonny purple heather are all in evidence at this time of year and the practice of first-footing carries on regardless. There won't be fireworks for us - we live amidst farms, where livestock graze - but there will be the usual 'two fingers' (a unit of measurement used for pouring a half of whisky) to all who venture near.
Hogmanay is actually a very frugal tradition, one that's based on common sense, community spirit  (no pun intended) and basic human decency. Neighbours visited neighbours bearing gifts of coal (warmth), shortbread or black bun (food) and whisky (drink) - the basic necessities for survival. Houses were thoroughly cleaned (health) before midnight on the 31st, all debts were paid off in full (wealth) and all ashes from the fires cleared out in readiness to begin afresh, happy that the longest night had gone (happiness). Oot wae the auld, in wae the new!

If only people could see that it's about setting their homes in order and taking stock of what really matters - life itself. (Perhaps if Governments cleaned up and cleared debts each year then we wouldn't get into such a mess in the first place!)

IN time honoured tradition, most would suggest a rendition of 'Auld Lang Syne', but instead, here's a verse from an old Scottish poem that I'm sure Rabbie Burns wrote for us frugalers:
Here's tae us
Wha's like us
Damn few,
And they're a' deid
Mair's the pity!
Photo credit 1: foxypar4 / Foter / CC BY
Photo credit 2: djwtwo / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA


  1. Replies
    1. And to you, Nic! Here's to many happy years in your new home, too! :)

  2. Happy New Year! I spent three years at university in Aberdeen, but was never in Scotland for Hogmanay. Always felt that I had missed out, somehow. Although, first footing and all its associated traditions was ver common here in Yorkshire when I was growing up.

    1. Happy New Year when it gets here, Andrea. It's been nearly 11 years since I lived in Aberdeenshire but loved it up there. Now I'm about as far south in Scotland as I can get without actually going across to the Mull of Galloway lighthouse. :) I wonder when we'll get our firstfoot of 2013?

      Have a great night and thanks for stopping by to comment here. :)

  3. Happy New Year, *Raises glass* and here's to a fruitful 2013

  4. Happy New Year Nyk!

    Thank you for being such an inspiration to us.

    Sft x


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