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Hogmanay: The Origins of our New Year Celebrations

Hogmanay: The Origins of our New Year Celebrations

Each year thousands gather in Scotland’s capital to join in the world famous Hogmanay celebrations. Revellers see out the old year and welcome in the new with an explosion of music, light and entertainment across four days of fantastic events.

The origins of New Year celebrations date back to biblical times. The Romans set the date of the New Year as the 1st of January following their festival of Saturnalia, the Winter Solstice. However, historians have traced the biggest influences on Hogmanay as we know it to the Vikings, who brought their traditions and Winter festivals across with them from the North. Evidence of this can be seen in Shetland, where Hogmanay is still called Yules, from the Scandinavian word.

Tracing the origins of the word Hogmanay itself is unfortunately not so easy. Many different theories have been put forward as to where this strange word came from, including the Anglo-Saxon Haleg monath, meaning ‘Holy Month’, Gaelic oge maidne, meaning ‘new morning’ and the French homme est né meaning ‘man is born’ from our time under the Norman rule- take your pick!

What is certain is that each year Edinburgh puts on one of the best Hogmanay shows in the world. Live music, fireworks, incredible events and amazing crowds combine to give an experience that will last you into the New Year and beyond.

When the celebrations are over, make sure you don’t forget another of Scotland’s proud traditions – that of the first-foot, or qualtagh. The first person to cross the threshold of a home on New Year’s Day is thought to be the bringer of good fortune for the coming year. According to folklore, the first-foot should be a tall, dark-haired male and they should carry a gift of a coin, bread, salt, coal and whisky in order to bring financial prosperity, food, flavour, warmth, and good cheer.

We hope however you end up spending Hogmanay, that you have a very happy New Year with friends and family!