What is Hogmanay?

Hogmanay is the word used to describe the very distinctive Scottish celebration of New Years's Eve. This includes the singing of Auld Lang Syne while linking arms - a tradition has spread across the world. 

Other famous customs include 'first-footing' - the welcoming the first visitor. First footers are encouraged to carry a lump of coal and gifts of whisky and shortbread. According to custom, tall tall dark strangers bring luck, though the job description may need to be tweaked in these more sensitive times. 

Alas, first-footing has been a casualty of the pandemic. Cold calling is not advised at present. 

Origin of the word Hogmanay

There are a number of not entirely convincing theories:
  • Hoggo-nott was a Scandinavian word for the shortest day. Evidently they needed work on their calendars as this is the 21st December.
  • The Flemish phrase hoog min dag means "great love day". This has not always apparent in the fiery eyes of dedicated revelers enjoying multiple whisky-chasers.
  • The Gaelic for “new morning” is oge maiden.
  • Homme est nĂ© is French for "Man is born". From here it is a big leap to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites.