Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy Hogmanay, Dad!

We miss you. Never more so than when the clock strikes midnight. This year you can have that Glenlivet you were denied in 2005. Enjoy, wee man!

{These photos are of my dad at a party where he was sneaking himself into photos being taken of other people. Not one for those stupid bunny ears people do in pictures, my Dad felt it more appropriate to add a Wee Fat Scotsman}.

For those of you currently googling the word "Hogmanay," here's a little background:
Nobody knows for sure where the word "Hogmanay" came from. Opinions differ as to whether it originated from the Gaelic oge maidne ("New Morning"), Anglo-Saxon Haleg Monath ("Holy Month"), or Norman French word hoguinané, which was derived from the Old French anguillanneuf ("gift at New Year"). It's also been suggested that it came from the French au gui mener ("lead to the mistletoe") or a Flemish combo hoog ("high" or "great"), min ("love" or "affection") and dag ("day"). Take your pick.

Hogmanay's roots reach back to the anamistic practice of sun and fire worship in the deep mid-Winter. This evolved into the ancient Saturnalia, a great Roman Winter festival, where people celebrated completely free of restraint and inhibition. The Vikings celebrated Yule, which became the twelve days of christmas, or the "Daft Days" as they became known in Scotland. The Winter festival went underground with the Reformation and ensuing years, but re-emerged at the end of the 17th Century. Since then the customs have continued to evolve to the modern day.

What is the symbolism of fire at Hogmanay?
The flame and fire at Hogmanay symbolises many things. The bringing of the light of knowledge from one year to the next, lighting the way into the next uncharted century, putting behind you the darkness past, but carrying forward its sacred flame of hope and enlightenment to a better parish, and in this day, a new fresh year,burning away of the old to make space for the new.

What is First Footing?
Traditionally, it has been held that your new year will be a prosperous one if, at the strike of midnight, a "tall, dark stranger" appears at your door with a lump of coal for the fire, or a cake or coin. In exchange, you offered him food, wine or a wee dram of whisky, or the traditional Het Pint, which is a combination of ale, nutmeg and whisky. It's been sugggested that the fear associated with blond strangers arose from the memory of blond-haired Vikings raping and pillaging Scotland circa 4th to 12th centuries. What's more likely to happen these days is that groups of friends or family get together and do a tour of each others' houses. Each year, a household takes it in turn to provide a meal for the group. In many parts of Scotland gifts or "Hogmanays" are exchanged after the turn of midnight.

For more info, take yourself to

In all the traditions and customs surrounding Hogmanay, one theme is of primary importance: the new year must begin on a happy note, with a clean break from all that may have been bad in the previous year.

With that in mind, The Haggis wishes for all of us a happy, healthy and peaceful new year. Slainte! Cheers! L'Chaim! Skal! Wen Lie! Prosit! Za vashe zdorovye!


runner said...


Raine said...

Right back at you E. Hope you had the best possible New Years/Hogmanay?

I don't know if it would be an utter travesty to even attempt trying to say it. My boss at work almost literally tore my face off for calling Glasgow "Glas-gow" instead of "Glas-go."

Well, here's to 2007. Hopefully a good year. If nothing else, lets hope its better than 2006, 2005, and 2004 put together.