Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Hogmanay traditions (and some fresh air too!)

My husband's sister is a great walker. Most Saturdays she can be found out on a hill somewhere, accompanied by her trusty collie dog, Cuilean (coo-lan).

So on Boxing Day, still rather full from our feast the day before, she suggested a walk around the reservoir in the Pentland hills. I stayed back at her house with Alasdair who still wasn't feeling 100%, and also kept my mother in law, whose arthritis was bothering her a bit, company.

The other boys had a blast!

Auntie Anna had us all out in the fresh air again on New Years Day. This time we were staying through at my in-laws house, where we almost always go to see in the new year.

Traditionally in Scotland, Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) and New Year's Day were a much bigger thing than Christmas was. My father in law's generation wouldn't have made quite the fuss over Christmas that we do now. That's not to say that he doesn't enjoy Christmas!

We Scots are rightfully proud of our old traditions though, and the celebration of Hogmanay and many of it's traditions are still going strong.

A traditional Hogmanay celebration would have had families gathering together for a ceilidh (kay-lee). Not in the sense that people talk about a ceilidh nowadays, an organised ceilidh dance with a dance band, but in a more informal sense. (Ceilidh is the Gaelic for visit.) There would be stories and music, unscripted. 

In keeping with this, Calum brought his accordion to granny & grandad's house to entertain us.

The boys all managed to stay up until 'the bells' and clinked their juice glasses along with everyone else's as we listened to the piper pipe in the new year on the TV.

Alasdair is actually awake here, he just has his eyes closed in this photo!

I don't know if it is a tradition anywhere else but 'first footing' is a Scottish New Year tradition. I'm sure plenty people still do it. We certainly did until we had the practicalities of young children to factor in!

First footing is the visiting of friends and neighbours immediately after the New Year has been rung in. Right after midnight. In the past it was considered good fortune to bring a piece of coal for the fire, signifying the hope that the fires would never go out. On the mainland it was also considered good fortune if the first person across your door step in the New Year was male, dark and handsome!

However, in the islands the tradition was that it was good fortune for the youngest members of the family to enter the house first.

And so onto the New Year's Day walk, which has become something of a tradition in our family. The walk takes place before the big celebratory dinner. 

That's another Scottish tradition. New Year's Day dinner should be steak pie followed by trifle.

Cuilean had a great time chasing balls thrown by various boys.

Despite the mud!

Our walk ended at the beautiful big duck pond, where we stopped to watch a man sailing a model boat he had built himself.

 But before anyone could have dinner, poor Cuilean was in need of a bath and Calum was only to happy to help.


Then he was nice and fresh, ready to join everyone else for dinner and cuddles.

Did I mention how much Calum loves Cuilean? 


  1. Oh, your pictures all just make me smile!

    Why is New Year's Eve called "Hogmanay"? I mean, does it have a translated meaning, or is it just the name of the holiday? Either way, it was fun to read about the Scottish traditions ~ thanks for sharing. :)

    1. I've never really thought about the origin of the word as it isn't similar to any others. I did do a wee google search for you though and found this article

  2. I love seeing you back again... I've missed your posts. I was actually catching up on your yesterdays post, and had to refresh... and boom here was your today's post, so now I get both. It was such fun to read about all of your traditions and see all of your pictures. I was drooling over the potatoes and sausages, and the stuffing balls... you might need to post those recipes too.

    So, was the little dog statue in the previous post a war hero? A postman's dog? Those two thoughts come into my memory of a story I had heard once. Oh, the last picture of Calum and Cuilean is so, precious. Happy New Year.

    1. Thanks Pam, it's good to be back 'talking' to everyone again! You were quite close with postman. He was a policeman's dog and I will tell why he is famous in tonight's post :0)

  3. I love hearing about your traditions, too! Great pictures...your family is so beautiful! Have a great day!

  4. Aww I think my absolute favorite photo *hard to choose* on this post is the last one! I think Calum needs a dog to be his "best friend" in the furry sense! Too cute! - R


I love reading everyone's comments, so thank-you for taking the time to leave them! I try and respond to them here too, so do check back later on.