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What is Hogmanay? Everything you need to know about the Scottish celebration

Sturgeon calls on people to ‘minimise Hogmanay socialising’

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Hogmanay will sadly be cancelled for many Scots this year, as Nicola Sturgeon has introduced tough new Covid measures in a bid to curb the spread of the Omicron variant in Scotland. What is Hogmanay and why is this Scottish celebration so significant?

New Year’s Eve is celebrated the world over, but it’s a particularly big deal in Scotland.

Unlike England, which only celebrates New Year with a party on December 31, Scotland has two days of holiday following their New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Festivities in Scotland are held across the country and last from December 31 to January 2.

What does Hogmanay mean?

Hogmanay is the Scottish name for their New Year’s celebrations.

The word Hogmanay is thought to have come from the French word “Hoginane,” which means “gala day”.

What is first footing?

First footing is a central tradition to the Hogmanay festivities.

“First footing” is when a person visits their neighbours, friends or nearby family in a bid to be the first person to enter their home on New Year’s Day.

It’s thought this person will bring good fortune to the household for the coming year.

But this tradition has some odd quirks. For the best luck, the “first foot” should traditionally be a tall, dark-haired man.

A blonde “first footer” is thought to be unlucky, as this tradition is thought to have dated back to the Viking invasions where the invaders were often blonde.

First footers traditionally bring a lump of coal with them, this is supposed to ensure the house stays warm over the winter.

Other Hogmanay traditions include cleaning the house before New Year’s eve and singing Auld Lang Syne to welcome in the New Year.

Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is the epicentre of celebrations in Scotland, although these have been cancelled due to the surge in Omicron cases this year.

It kicks off with a huge torchlit parade on December 30 and is accompanied by a huge fireworks display.

Why are Hogmanay celebrations so big in Scotland?

Hogmanay has traditionally been the biggest winter celebration in Scotland.

Until fairly recently Christmas wasn’t widely celebrated by the Scots.

This is because the Protestant Reformation effectively banned Christmas for 400 years, due to its Roman Catholic connections.

Technically Christmas Day wasn’t even a public holiday in Scotland until 1958 and Boxing Day wasn’t made into a public holiday until 1974.

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