Hogmanay, the Scots word for the last day of the year, is typically a time to welcome friends and strangers with warm hospitality into your home. Its origins reach back to the winter solstice celebration among the Vikings with wild parties in late December.
Since ancient times, households across Scotland have welcomed strangers through their doors to bring good fortune for the year ahead. This tradition, called “first footing,” stems from the Gaelic practice of “qualtagh.” Traditionally, the first footer should be someone who was not already in the house when midnight struck – hence a Scottish party tradition of having one guest leave just before the bells so they can knock on the door as the new year begins. They usually come bearing gifts; per tradition, they would arrive loaded with a coin, bread, salt, a lump of coal, and whisky – gifts representing all the things the new year would hopefully bring, such as prosperity, food, warmth, and good cheer.
As the clock strikes midnight, many across the globe cap the night by singing Auld Lang Syne by Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns (who we will be celebrating on Burns Night, Wednesday, January 25).
Looking ahead, we are excited to continue our efforts as Scots helping Scots and send our best wishes to you and your families. Happy Hogmanay!