Hogmanay: Biggest Day of the Year

ambience: bagpipes

There are a number of ways that Scotland traditionally brings in the new year, with fire festivals, bells, sirens gunfire and even cannons. But however its celebrated New Year’s or Hogmanay – is Scotland’s most important family holiday. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Tom Laurenson was born in Scotland and has many memories of Hogmanay, including the custom of First Footing.

“Hogmanay is a time to be with family and friends. It’s a very neighborly time. And as the bells strike midnight, the thing to do is to go around to your neighbors and ‘First Foot’ them, so that you’re the first foot to cross the door in that particular year. And the ‘first foot’ is greeted with a drink of whiskey, and the two traditions that you offer visitors are a very heavy sort of cake known as black bun, and the other one is shortbread. So in the wee small hours of January the 1st, you’ll see people going from door to door in a neighborhood. It’s a bit easier in Scotland where the houses are a wee bit closer together than perhaps they are out in the countryside in the States.”

The origin of the name Hogmanay is obscure. Some say it comes from the Anglo-Saxon expression for Holy Month, others say it’s derived from the Gaelic words for New Morning. Whatever its origins, Hogmanay is an ancient celebration that Scottish people have taken to heart.

“When I was growing up, Hogmanay was the big event of the winter. You want to be home if you can for Christmas, but you have to be home for Hogmanay, if you’re a Scot.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Hogmanay: Biggest Day of the Year

Scottish culture preserves New Year's Day as the most important family holiday.
Air Date:12/30/2003
Scientist:
Transcript:


ambience: bagpipes

There are a number of ways that Scotland traditionally brings in the new year, with fire festivals, bells, sirens gunfire and even cannons. But however its celebrated New Year's or Hogmanay - is Scotland's most important family holiday. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Tom Laurenson was born in Scotland and has many memories of Hogmanay, including the custom of First Footing.

"Hogmanay is a time to be with family and friends. It's a very neighborly time. And as the bells strike midnight, the thing to do is to go around to your neighbors and 'First Foot' them, so that you're the first foot to cross the door in that particular year. And the 'first foot' is greeted with a drink of whiskey, and the two traditions that you offer visitors are a very heavy sort of cake known as black bun, and the other one is shortbread. So in the wee small hours of January the 1st, you'll see people going from door to door in a neighborhood. It's a bit easier in Scotland where the houses are a wee bit closer together than perhaps they are out in the countryside in the States."

The origin of the name Hogmanay is obscure. Some say it comes from the Anglo-Saxon expression for Holy Month, others say it's derived from the Gaelic words for New Morning. Whatever its origins, Hogmanay is an ancient celebration that Scottish people have taken to heart.

"When I was growing up, Hogmanay was the big event of the winter. You want to be home if you can for Christmas, but you have to be home for Hogmanay, if you're a Scot."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.