Happy New YearIn Scotland the word Hogmanay is used to describe the New Year’s Eve celebration on December 31. The holiday is so important in Scotland that it tends to eclipse Christmas and gifts are given and received on New Year’s Eve.

The custom of Hogmanay was mentioned in the Elgin, Scotland, records as “hagmonay” and is believed to stem from a northern French dialect word hoguinane (a gift given at New Year) from the Scottish connection with the French through the Auld Alliance.

There are many traditions associated with New Year and many people believe the house should be cleaned (a good idea if you’re planning a party) to rid the house of the old dirt before Hogmanay. Just before midnight, a window is opened at each side of the house to let the old year out and the New Year in.

“First-footing” is another great tradition when, at midnight, people pay the first visit of the year to friends and neighbors. This is an informal get together and you never know who is going to show up at the door.

It’s customary to welcome people into your home to enjoy a New Year’s drink and have a bite to eat. For good luck the first person to enter your home in the New Year should be tall and dark-haired. The first-footer should arrive through the front door and leave through the back door.

Gifts given by first-footers and should include a lump of coal to bring warmth to the home, a bottle of whisky and something to eat.

“Auld Lang Syne” the world most famous New Year song that most people sing, but nobody really knows, is sung just after midnight on December 31.

Here’s the original lyrics written by Scotland’s Bard Robert Burns (1759-1796):

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus.-For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak a cup o’kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
Chorus

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
Sin’ auld lang syne.
Chorus

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
Frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin’ auld lang syne.
Chorus

And there’s a hand, my trusty fere!
And gie’s a hand o thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.
Chorus”

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