Jill Creighton’s take on celebrating Hogmanay


How to Celebrate New Year – Scottish Style

Thanks to Rabbie Burns and his universally sung (and rarely understood) Auld Lang Syne, Scots sorta feel that we invented New Year’s Eve or, as we call it – Hogmanay..

The celebration involves some strange practices:

We call it The Bells From the middle of December a common question is – What are you doing for The Bells?

Buying enough food for the whole year If you visit a Scottish supermarket around 5pm on Hogmanay you’ll think there’s been a plague of locusts.

Super-clean our homes Apparently it’s bad luck to start a new year with a house that’s less than sparkling clean. So there has to be a big clean up. (I pass on this one) – It includes: washing curtains, skirting boards, cleaning the oven, changing the beds and so on.

Spread the celebrations out over 3 days. It all kicks off on Hogmanay (31 December) and rolls on into Ne’erday (1 Janaury) and then…and here’s the clever bit, unlike the rest of the UK Scots take 2nd January off work to recover or visit the sales.

Eat a huge plate of steak pie, mashed potatoes and peas. Some go for The Full Steak Pie Dinner around 9ish on Hogmanay to line the stomach, others serve it on the 1st January as the ultimate hangover cure.

First-foot  Apparently it’s luck to have a tall, dark man as your first foot – your first visitor of the New Year. If they bring certain items all the better – a piece of coal (representing warmth), bread and salt (so all in the house will be well fed during the year), a coin (for financial prosperity) and a wee dram (whisky) – good cheer.

Don’t forget to open all the windows as the bells chime to let the old year out and new year in

Alcohol is important  Preferably whisky but anything will do

 New Year resolutions This may be swearing to lose at least 10 pounds, get fit and take up something new like learning Mandarin, bookbinding or cycling through Europe – you may only stick to the new plan for ten days or so.

Sing Auld Lang Syne Yell the first verse at the top of your voice and then the chorus – few people know all the words.

What does it mean anyway?  Auld Lang Syne means Days Gone by or the Old Days.  The song starts with a rhetorical question: should old times be forgotten? And the answer is, of course, no – instead we should take ‘a cup o’ kindness’ in order to look back on the past.  Basically its message is all about remembering, cherishing old friendships, carrying out good deeds and toasting health and goodwill for the year ahead. Probably why this simple folk song (featured in so many movies including Sex in the City, Harry Met Sally, It’s a Wonderful Life and The Apartment) is sung throughout the world to welcome in a new year.

Here are the words:

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
Sin’ auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

Rod Stewart’s effort – would bring a tear tae a glass eye.

Hogmanay, 2017, OranMor Whisky Bar
KIOKO: The Big Gig in aid of Scottish Huntington's Association

This section: Events, Fairs, Festivals and Fundraisers, Hogmanay Glasgow, Jill Creighton's Blog: A Wry Guide to (Mid)Life

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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