In 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.

Portrait of Robert Burns

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 verse 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* ?


For auld lang syne, my jo,
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.


We twa hae run about the braes,
and pu’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere !
and gie’s a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught,
for auld lang syne.

Happy New Year! –Click on the video to listen to “Old Lang Syne

3 Comments on Hogmanay and the world’s most famous New Year song that nobody knows

  1. Jennifer F says:

    Great post! Thank you! Never knew about Hogmanay.

  2. A. Smith says:

    Thank you for this interesting post. Your web site is terrific and very different from others.

  3. Inkie says:

    Very good to get all the words of Auld Lang Syne. I must do some research too and maybe take time to learn them.
    All your articles are interesting Spittalstreet, thanks, keep up the good work.

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