Time For Your Piece: Hogmanay

It’s been a while since my last Time For Your Piece post; in all honesty, everything I seem to want to share related to this feature is more a British food/celebration/practice rather than a specifically Scottish one. This post, however, is different.

Hogmanay (pronounced Hog-ma-naay, emphasis on the last syllable), is the Scots word for the last day of the year, (which to the rest of us is known as New Year’s Eve), and is the word that describes the Scottish celebrations of this day. It’s a pretty big deal here in Scotland, in some ways bigger than Christmas because there is a bank holiday here in Scotland January 2nd as well. Hogmanay is celebrated in its own special way, in communities up and down the country, with some more notable bashes in Edinburgh and Stonehaven. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations are a must-see for many, with people flocking from all over Scotland, Europe and even the world to the city to revel en masse. While flying back from Germany for our Christmas celebrations in 2010, there were many people on our flight going to Edinburgh specifically for the party. You can be a part of the street party or concert in the gardens, both along Princes Street. For more information, click here.

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Another noteworthy and very interesting Hogmanay celebration takes place further north, close to where we live! The fireballs of Stonehaven are another iconic Scottish sight on the 31st of December, where people come together and line the High Street down to the harbour, waiting for midnight to arrive and the fires to begin. The festivities are ignited by the sound of bagpipes, with flashes of tartan everywhere as the lucky chosen ones begin their parade down the High Street, swinging above their heads their large ball of chicken wire full of flammable materials, set ablaze to be ultimately tossed in the harbour. It’s quite the event! People literally come from near and far to see it, and a good spot on the street is highly coveted.The year we went, a woman was angry with us for standing in front of her, which, although I didn’t know at the time, ruined Pat’s planned marriage proposal that night! It wasn’t all lost though, he proposed the next day. Did I mention December 31st is the day we met? For more information on the Stonehaven fireballs, click here.

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And what do you do after the clock strikes 12? Sing Auld Lang Syne of course. Written by Scotland’s favourite son (and poet) Robert Burns in Scots, the song is traditionally sung at new year, but also to culminate many events, like our wedding. This ‘video’ is my favourite version by Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis is from YouTube, and is sung in Scots rather than English, (sorry, it’s not a proper music video, but you’re still able to appreciate the song). You might also recognize this version from the New Year’s Eve scenes in the Sex and the City movie. You can play it while you read the rest of this post!

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Our Hogmanay this year was a good one. We got to spend our ‘meet-a-versary’ as my friend Shannon says, with close friends and family, eating Mexican food, playing board games and laughing a lot. We went over to my sister-in-law Erica’s Mom’s huge house, where we stayed the night and enjoyed a delicious brunch New Year’s Day. We had also decided we would dress up in the Mexican theme as well, however you wanted to interpret it. Pat and his brother Aidan dressed as Mexican cowboys, Erica as a Mexican peasant woman-ish, and me in the outfit I was wearing when I met Pat. Our friends Stuart and Colleen came as a fabulous cross-dresser (Stuart) and a glamorous 70’s lady (Colleen). Not Mexican but still good!

 Our spread of chicken and rice enchiladas by moi, chili con carne and salsa by Erica.

Mexican Hogmanay party people!

After our indulgent dinner and dessert of decadent chocolate cake and apple strudel, we settled in to play a game of Cranium while waiting for midnight to come. After kisses and hugs at the stroke of 12, we headed outside as Aidan had a brilliant idea to take some long-exposure photos using glow sticks and flashlights to mark the new year. Below are the results!

Happy New Year!
A ghost was here!
I’m glowing!
And in continuing with Hogmanay tradition, we did our ‘first footing’ to the in-laws the following day, where we presumably were their first guests of the new year. Traditionally, guests brought gifts of salt, coal, shortbread, whisky or fruit cake, to bring luck to the homeowner, we brought alcohol! The first-foot is supposed to set the luck for the rest of the year. Traditionally, tall dark men are preferred as the first-foot, (source). The typical New Year’s Day dish is steak pie, basically a beef stew with a puff pastry lid, which many get at their local butcher. Instead, (and preferably), my mother-in-law made a superb, fall apart beef brisket with vegetables, and this heavenly clementine and almond cake. Oh. My. God!

What did you do to ring in the New Year? Did you do any first-footing?

Next up: My goals (intentions? hopes?) for 2013

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2 thoughts on “Time For Your Piece: Hogmanay

  1. I loved reading this!! I learned something new this Sunday afternoon. One year maybe I can convince my husband to go to Scotland one for Hogmanay. It sounds like so much fun. 🙂 And the pictures with the glow sticks are pretty awesome too.
    Have a great week!
    Tracie

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