Hogmanay is a Scottish word meaning “the last day of the year.” It’s celebrated in Scotland on New Year’s Eve, when Scots host house parties and exchange gifts. The celebrations are often followed by parties on both New Year’s Day and January 2, which is a bank holiday in Scotland. While the origins of Hogmanay are hard to pinpoint, its roots are thought to lie in Norse and Gaelic traditions.
Hogmanay - History
Christmas slowly returned
Up until the 1950s many Scots did not celebrate Christmas — choosing instead to mark the winter solstice with Hogmanay. Christmas celebrations were banned in Scotland for nearly 400 years after the Protestant reformation because Christmas was considered a Catholic holiday.
A New Year's Eve classic
Scottish poet Robert Burns published "Auld Lang Syne," which is often sung to ring in the new year.
You can thank the Vikings
Vikings brought the first Hogmanay celebrations to Scotland.
1. Throw a party
You don't have to be Scottish to celebrate Hogmanay! You're probably going to celebrate New Year's Eve anyway, so get yourself a kilt and do it Scottish style. You might serve some haggis (the famous Scottish pudding), and put together a soundtrack of music featuring bagpipes.
2. Watch "Braveheart"
The 1995 movie, featuring Mel Gibson, tells the story of William Wallace, who led the war for Scottish independence. The film picked up 10 Academy Awards and grossed more than $210 million worldwide.
3. Visit Scotland
There's much to see — from Glasgow to the historic town of Edinburgh (and its castle) — to the highlands, and Loch Ness. With some luck you might spot the Loch Ness monster. In Glasgow you can catch the Old Firm Derby between soccer clubs Rangers and Celtic, one of the oldest and fiercest soccer rivalries in the world.
4 Famous Scottish Poets
1. Andrew Lang
Big collector of folk and fairy tales, and a contributor to the field of anthropology.
2. Walter Scott
Not just a poet, but also a novelist and historian. Authored many famous works.
3. William Dunbar
Scottish poet closely associated with King James IV.
4. Carol Ann Duffy
Poet and playwright appointed British Poet Laureate in 2009.
Why We Love Hogmanay
A. Scots know how to party
Remember that scene in "Four Weddings and a Funeral" — the one with the wedding in the Scottish Castle? It may be the rain, it may be the "heather on the hills," or it may be genetic, but the Scots can throw a party. Beer might also be a factor.
B. Kilts and culture
Scotland has an amazingly rich cultural history. It was once frozen over, but when the ice melted, a gang of hunter-gatherers showed up and inhabited the land. Its culture was shaped through independence from the Roman Empire and through wars with England. This rich history shines through in its art, architecture, music, and other aspect of society. And yes, occasionally the guys wear skirts.
C. It celebrates friendship
Hogmanay is all about celebrating with friends. House parties reflect the communal nature of the holiday, and gift-giving is a key component. Part of the tradition is to acknowledge the first visitor to one's home in the new year.