Hogmanay is the Scottish New Year's celebration, celebrated yearly on December 31. The celebrations start in the early evening and when Big Ben's bells chime midnight, everyone kisses everyone else and sings Auld Lang Syne.

The Hogmanay festival has evolved out of the Pagan practices of sun and fire worship in mid-Winter around what is now our New Year. In Rome, this evolved into Saturnalia, the great Roman Winter festival where people celebrated for days and threw all inhibitions to the wind. The Vikings incorporated it into their Yule festival, which became the twelve days of Christmas or the "Daft Days" as they were known in Scotland. During the Reformation the festival died out, but slowly regained popularity near the end of the 1600s. Since then the celebration has evolved continuously. In many parts of Scotland it is still celebrated in the traditional manner: fire ceremonies, fireball swinging, torch-lit processions, and other fire-related events. The fire is a symbol for a number of things, including bringing the light of knowledge from year to year, lighting the path to the unknown future, and putting the dark past behind you while carrying the flame of hope forward.

The origins of the word "Hogmanay" are unknown. It could have stemmed from Gaelic oge maidne ("new morning"), Anglo-Saxon Haleg Monath ("Holy Month"), or Norman French word hoguinané. Others think it could have been French or Flemish.

In the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling street parties for Hogmanay similar to First Night celebrations in the United States have become popular annual events which draw over 100,000 people a piece. Usually involving live music, alcohol, and fireworks, these celebrations still tie in the traditional fire theme and elements of the Hogmanay celebrations of the past.


Sources:
http://www.hogmanay.net/

Hog`ma*nay" (), n.

The old name, in Scotland, for the last day of the year, on which children go about singing, and receive a dole of bread or cakes; also, the entertainment given on that day to a visitor, or the gift given to an applicant.

[Scot.]

 

© Webster 1913.

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