Scottish New Year is also known as Hogmanay. It signifies the last day of a year and at the same time, the celebrations of New Year.
The celebrations start on December 31 evening and last until the daybreak of January 1. A number of customs are associated with Scottish New Year or Hogmanay. Some of the most sought Scottish New Year traditions are, ‘First Footing’, ‘the Bell’, and ‘redding’.
Scottish New Year Customs
The Bells: ‘The Bells’ is one of the primary New Year customs in Scotland. The first New Year stroke of Chime is called The Bells. People sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ together while holding hands. After ‘the bells’, people visit the places of their near and dear ones. People gift whisky bottles to each other as the New Year spirit. This spirit is placed by the fireplace or on the bookshelf. The New Year spirit is opened at midnight. People wish each other happy New Year with the Hogmanay toasts.
First Footing: It is observed at the midnight. In this custom, people try to become the first person to knock at a friend or neighbor’s door and give him/her a customary gift such as salt, shortbread, whisky, coal, black bun etc. It is considered the fate-deciding factor for the New Year, as all the aforementioned items refer to different lucky charms. However, giving salt as a New Year gift has become obsolete these days. Handsome men are preferred to do the custom, according to a popular myth. All the abovementioned objects are presented to the family and friends in order to bring good luck and keep away the evil spirits. If guest visits, the Scottish people present food and drinks to the guests.
Redding: It is one of the most important Scottish New Year traditions. Scottish families spend the New Year eve together. They start preparing for the grand event by cleaning their houses and other belongings. It is said that a clean and tidy home can welcome the good spirits of the New Year in the best way. Special attention is given to the fireplaces. The fireplaces should be cleaned and polished. According to a popular Mexican custom, some people read the ashes of the last fire, in order to know their destiny for the next year. The entire custom of preparing the home for New Year celebrations is called ‘redding’ in Scotland.
There are a number of things, which the Scottish families do to bring good luck. According to Scottish New Year traditions, people think that debts bring bad luck, so they clear all debts before New Year eve. They place Rowan trees at the entrance of their houses. They place a piece of mistletoe in the house, which is thought to bring good health for the family. Hazel and yew are kept to bring magical power and protection respectively. Juniper is burnt in the house and all the doors and windows are kept opened during the process. It is said that burning juniper can bring a fresh air into the house. Some pieces of holly are also placed inside the house in order to keep away the evil spirits.