Got any big plans for New Years Eve? If you really want to say farewell to 2015 in style, and start 2016 on an unbelievably high note, forget about NYE and think instead: Hogmanay. Hogma-whatsit-now??
Without question the biggest holiday in Scotland, Hogmanay is a new year celebration extraordinaire, and a bucket-list-worthy treat for any ‘outlander’ who gets to experience it. The party begins December 31st and doesn’t wrap up until January 2nd… by which time you’ll be plenty ready for a couple of quiet days in which to make your resolutions.
Though the origins of Hogmanay are murky, it likely dates way back to Viking times, referring to Norse celebrations of winter solstice. It would seem that the folks inhabiting the northern part of the British Isles have always liked to party!
Scots observe a number of Hogmanay traditions, the most popular of which is “first-footing”. Starting immediately after midnight, the “first-footer” is the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbor’s home, usually bearing symbolic gifts (shortbread, fruit cake, or sometimes whisky), intended to bring luck to the homeowner. A dark-haired man is said to bring the very best luck; if you’ve got one to hand, bring him to the party for an extra good time! Some folks celebrate Hogmanay with a ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee), a traditional Gaelic gathering involving folk music and dancing, while other Hogmanay traditions include massive fireworks displays, bonfire ceremonies, torchlight processions, bagpipes, and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne”. I’m willing to bet that the country’s esteemed Scotch Whiskey stockpile takes a hit over Hogmanay, too!
Lucky visitors from the world over experience the magic of this holiday each year. Guests seeking to ring in 2016 at a quiet Scottish country inn or join the “biggest party of the year” in Edinburgh can look to Connoisseurs Scotland member properties, which offer a range of accommodation packages and activities to fit every style of traveler.