Blog 18 Dec 2014

Where did the word Hogmanay originate from?

There are many theories where the word Hogmanay originates from.

  • Scandanavian “Hoggo-nott”
  • Flemish “Hoog min dag”
  • French “Homme est ne”
  • Anglo-Saxon “Haleg Monath”

Regardless of where this word comes from, to the Scots it represents New Year’s Eve.

Scottish New Year’s Eve Traditions

Different areas in Scotland have different traditions for New Years. These include folk singing, dancing, torch light processions and even the swinging of fireballs!

The swinging of the fireballs symbolises a shining light on the unknown of the year to follow, putting light on a bright new horizon for the New Year.

There is also an old tradition called first-footing. First-footing is when a stranger would appear at your doorstep with a lump of coal for the fire, a cake or a coin. In exchange, you would offer them food, wine or a wee dram of whisky. This is said to have brought you a prosperous New Year.

Nowadays, the term first-footing is used to describe the practice of going to neighbours and friends houses after midnight. As the name suggests, only the first person to cross a threshold after midnight has the right to be called first-foot. The only condition is that the first-foot must carry a gift over the threshold of the house which they are visiting. 

Edinburgh Hogmanay

In Edinburgh, things get underway on the 30th of December with the impressive Torchlight Processions. Thousands of people holding fire torches make their way through the city to Calton Hill where there is a finale of impressive fireworks.

On the 31st, most of the action takes place in the heart of the city; Princes Street. Sing the old folk song “Auld Lang Syne” and ring in the bells at one of the biggest and best street parties. Witness spectacular fireworks, people singing and dancing on the streets and watch some world class performances on the main stage at ‘Concert in the Gardens’ in Princes Street gardens. The event has had some incredible acts over the years such Biffy Clyro, Nina Nesbitt and The Pet Shop Boys to name a few. This year Lily Allen will be headlining and kick-starting 2015 at one of the best New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world!

The Edinburgh street party normally sells about 100,000 tickets. Famously, the celebrations in Edinburgh in 1996-1997 was recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest New Year party, with approximately 400,000 people in attendance. 

If you’ve never experienced the city on Hogmanay, we can assure you, you will never forget it!

After the festivities on Hogmanay, take part in ‘The Loony Dook’ on the 1st of January which is an annual dip for charity at the breath-taking South Queensferry with the famous Forth Road Bridge as your backdrop. Thousands of people take part in this plunge raising loads of money for charity.

If the dip in the ice cold water doesn’t take your fancy, how about bringing in the New Year with a fantastic Timberbush Tour of the Scottish Highlands. Take in Scotland’s dramatic countryside with the crisp winter air and dream about the great 2015 ahead!