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Hogmanay in 2020 Scotland? A Guide

Scottish Traditions

Every 31st December, the world prepares to ring in the new year, but none do this quite like the Scots. Hogmanay celebrations are not even limited to New Year's Eve, because both 1st January and 2nd January are Bank Holidays. It's fair to say that we celebrate in style with street parties, house parties, bonfires and fireworks. Hogmanay, or Auld Year's Night here in the Borders, is a unique tradition with roots that reach back to the Vikings' winter solstice celebrations. The influence of Scotland on New Year's Eve across the world is unrivalled. As the clock strikes midnight, you will hear Robert Burns' 'Auld Lang Syne' belted out in just about any country in the world. Due to the ongoing restrictions, this year is promised to be a subdued affair. However, we can still enjoy many Hogmanay traditions from the comfort and safety of our homes.

Photo by Alana Harris on Unsplash

Photo by Alana Harris on Unsplash

First Footing
First footing is a widely practised custom for Hogmanay. After the bells, gift-bearing Scots head outdoors to their loved ones' homes to be the first person to cross the household's threshold in the new year. The host will welcome the first footer with a wee dram of whisky. The gifts brought by the first footer are tokens of good luck and prosperity. Gifts are usually food items such as shortbread or whisky, but some have symbolic meanings. Coal represents warmth for the home, and bringing salt means good health for the hosts. 

Tradition says that if the first person to cross the threshold after midnight is a dark-haired male, luck and prosperity for the new year is guaranteed. Many believe this idea comes from the Vikings' time when the appearance of a light-haired male at your door might be a cause for alarm! While we may not be able to visit our neighbours and loved ones this year, perhaps have a family member (hopefully with dark hair!) do a symbolic first footing, just in case!


Edinburgh's Hogmanay Online
Edinburgh's Hogmanay is usually one big street party celebrating the new year with live concerts, and spectacular fireworks. Not wanting to cancel the party entirely, Edinburgh's Hogmanay will be available to watch online for the first time in its history. The event will reflect on the year that has gone by and project hope for the future. Streaming online from 29th December to the 1st January, people worldwide can tune in and enjoy a series of free online shows that promises to be spectacular. The main event, titled Fare Well, will see 150 drones light up Edinburgh's skies in the UK's largest-ever drone show. The show promises breath-taking visuals as the drones create images and words in the sky, set to verse by poets Scots Makar and Jackie Kay and music by Skye's Niteworks. When midnight comes, gather your friends and family over video call and toast to a brighter 2021.

Have a traditional New Year's Day Feast
New Year's Day means curing that hangover with a large meal, and for many, that means Steak Pie! No one seems quite sure why it became a tradition for many Scottish families to tuck into a steak pie on New Year's Day, but it could have something to do with the pie's somewhat circular shape. Circular food is eaten by many cultures on New Year's Day because it symbolises the end of the old year and the start of a new one. We think it might have more do to with the ease of popping it in the oven after a heavy night!  If steak pie isn't your favourite, why not serve other traditional Scottish cuisines, such as scotch broth, roast lamb or haggis, neeps and tatties, and celebrate in true Hogmanay fashion.


2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. So, get your tartan on and let’s see in 2021 with the spirit (or spirits) of good cheer. Let us hope that it will prove to a better one. 

We would like to thank our customers for the support during this past year and wish you all the best for 2021.  Happy New Year to all - stay safe!

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