Friday, December 16, 2016

Winter Traditions and Holidays Part 15 - Hogomanay


  • The Scots word for celebration of the New Year in the Scottish manner.
  • The roots may reach back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Norse.
  • Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and Hogmanay was the winter celebration.
  • Perhaps a result of the Protestant Reformation after which Christmas was seen as "too Papist".
  • most widespread national custom is the practice of first-footing, which involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour and the giving of symbolic gifts such as salt, coal, shortbread, whisky, and black bun (a rich fruit cake), intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder.
  • Traditionally, tall, dark men are preferred as the first-footer.
  •  An old custom is the saining ('protecting, blessing') of the household and livestock by drinking and sprinkling 'magic water' from 'a dead and living ford' around the house (a river ford that is routinely crossed by both the living and the dead).
  • The house is then sealed up tight and branches of juniper are set on fire and carried throughout the house and byre. Then all the doors and windows are flung open to let in the cold, fresh air of the new year.
  • The woman of the house then administers 'a restorative' from the whisky bottle, and the household sits down to its New Year breakfast

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