Hogmanay in Scotland

It’s the end of the year and Scotland is getting ready to welcome the New Year, and we certainly don’t do it by half! Hogmanay is a special occasion in Scotland and is by far the biggest celebration of the year!

Here is everything you wanted to know about New Year and how we celebrate it here in Scotland:

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What is Hogmanay?

Hogmanay is the Scottish word for the last day of the year and is a huge celebration of the New Year. The event usually lasts from December 31st to the 2nd of January. Friends and family gather with one another to bring in the New Year together with food and a dram or two.

Where did it all start?

It is believed that Hogmanay originated from the Gaelic celebration of Samhain and that the Vikings also celebrated New Year. Hogmanay was the biggest festival of the year as a result of Scotland not celebrating Christmas because of religious reasons for 400 years right up until 1958! Boxing Day wasn’t even considered a holiday in Scotland until the 1970’s. This is why Hogmanay is such a big deal! It was the main event of the year and Scotland go all out for it.


How is it celebrated?

Hogmanay lasted for 3 days from the 31st to the 2nd of January! You can celebrate Hogmanay any way you want. Most people in Scotland will have parties or attend events where there is usually entertainment and fireworks when the bells toll. Eating and drinking is a big part of Hogmanay, although not many are fit for any of that come New Year ’s Day.

What are the traditions?

First foot

The first foot is seen to be a very important and a gesture of good luck, a tall dark man is seen to bring the most luck, whereas a small red headed woman being the first foot is unlucky. You must never come empty handed to a house on New Year as it is bad luck!

The bells

The bells are rung and are a signal of New Year’s Eve becoming New Year’s Day! There is usually a countdown 10 seconds before midnight and at the end the Bells will toll.

Redding up the house

Ahead of New Year you would clean your entire house and remove the ashes from every fireplace and repay all of your debts. This is seen as clearing all the bad vibes and you can start the New Year with a clear house and a clear conscience!


Are there any events near me?

Stonehaven fireballs

The Stonehaven fireballs is a big event where locals create balls made of chicken wire, paper and old rags before setting them on fire and swinging them around. Loads of people go to see them at New Year.

Loon Dook

Locals of Queensferry get together and run into the cold and icy sea beside the forth road bridge for Charity.

The ‘Ba Game’

The ‘Ba Game’ is a long or extremely short game of football that takes part in the streets of Kirkwall. Anyone can join in!


Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne is a famous Scottish song written by Robert Burns and is sang around the globe once the New Year has begun.

It was in the Guinness book of records for being the most frequently sung song in English.

Auld Lang Syne is sang by a group of people holding hands in a circle while they dance towards the centre.

Here’s a few popular verses for you, and probably the only ones that people can remember by the end of the night!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

and auld lang syne?


    For auld lang syne, my jo,

    for auld lang syne,

    we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,

    for auld lang syne.



No matter how you spend Hogmanay this year, I hope it’s a good one!

Happy New Year!

Katie x

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