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Hogmanay - New Year 2001/2002
The celebrations have already started in Scotland! In Edinburgh, a
torchlight procession yesterday included the burning of a ceremonial viking
longboat! If you would like to follow Hogmanay in Edinburgh, see
http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org/, and Bill Fernie's www.Caithness.org will
follow the Caithness events or for the whole of Scotland see
"Hogmanay" is the Scots version of New Year "Nobody knows for sure where
the word "Hogmanay" came from. Opinions differ as to whether it originated
from the Gaelic oge maidne ("new morning"), Anglo-Saxon Haleg Monath ("Holy
Month"), or Norman French word hoguinané, which was derived from the Old
French anguillanneuf ("gift at New Year"). It's also been suggested that it
came from the French au gui mener ("lead to the mistletoe") or a Flemish
combo hoog ("high" or "great"), min ("love" or "affection") and dag ("day").
Take your pick."
Scottish History and Culture
(domain names to be used - near future).
Scone's Scottish and Celtic Internet Book"
presented by Scone
Scottish Highlands and Islands Partnership
"another page in my book"
Celebrating a Classic Hogmanay
Rise up, guid wife, an' shake your feathers, Dinna think that we are
beggars: We are bairns come out to play, get up and gie's our Hogmanay!
The pagan Celts got some things right. When the grey monotony and darkness
of a Scottish winter enveloped the land, the natives punctuated the frigid
season with the fire festivals and the great feasts. Today's Scottish
festival of Hogmanay has ancient origins in the winter solstice, when the
sun gradually returned after the shortest day, bringing with it warmth and
the renewal of spring.
Before the reformation of the 16th century put a damper on people's communal
celebrations, Scottish society, rich and poor alike, indulged in the 12 days
of mid-winter "bacchanalia". Called "Daft Days," the revelry can be traced
to Rome's Saturnalia and the Norse festival of Yule. During these Daft Days,
society was turned upside down: profane songs were sung in churches, nobles
were mocked, and drinking and feasting prevailed. The fun ended with the
festival of Uphalieday on the Twelfth Night of Christmas.
The Scots still manage to do their ancestors proud with Hogmanay, the great
New Year's Eve festival. In days gone by, bonfires were lit and gifts were
exchanged (the word Hogmanay is possibly related to
Hogmanay in Scotland is a festival of renewal, an opportunity to cast off
bad luck and hardship, to renew friendships and hope. In more recent times,
all debts were paid off, borrowed articles were returned before the New
Year, and homes were thoroughly cleaned.
The rituals and ceremonies of Hogmanay have continued for thousands of
years. There are still fire festivals in some Scottish communities. And
although much of the celebrating takes place in Scottish homes, it is still
the custom in towns and cities to gather at the mercat (market)cross to
publicly welcome the New Year at midnight. Flasks of whiskey are passed
around and New Year's greetings are exchanged after the bells have struck.
Auld Lang Syne is sung, and the crowd disperses for the ritual of the
first-footing: bringing in the New Year with friends and family, and sharing
a dram (or two) from their bottle of whiskey.
Nancy MacLeod MacCorkill, F.S.A. Scot
Historian of the Ancient Clans of Scotland,
Researcher in Dept of Celt
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