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How To Celebrate The New Year Scottish Style

Updated on December 30, 2012

Happy New Year Scottish Style

With Christmas finished and done with for another year, you hardly have time to take a breath before it is time to think about how you are going to celebrate the new year which is only a week away, Will you be going out to a party? Will you be hosting a party? Will you just have a quiet night at home and see the new year with your family? Or will you just treat it like any other day and go to bed?

Around the world people celebrate the dawning of a new year in many different ways, different cultures have different traditions, no more so than the people of Scotland.

In Scotland, Christmas is a celebration mainly centered around the children where as the New Year is a time for the adults to let their hair down, if they have any.

At Christmas time in Scotland children excitedly await the big day with thoughts of what MR Santa Claus and his reindeer might leave for them under the tree.

As a new year approaches Adults in Scotland excitedly await the stroke of midnight with a glass in hand hoping that MR Johnnie Walker or Mr Jim Beam will keep their glasses full all night long.

Shortbread Biscuits

Shortbread a traditional Scottish new year treat.
Shortbread a traditional Scottish new year treat. | Source


Hogmanay or new years eve is a day of preparation for the big day in Scotland.

Alcohol and food are the order of the day and plenty of both are required.

The main reason for preparation the day before new years day is that no one expects to be in a fit state of health from the night of celebration.

Party food such as sausage rolls, sandwiches, short bread biscuits cakes and of course soft drinks for the children.

Home made Scotch broth followed by a steak pie is a favorite dinner choice for new years day, stewing steak beef sausages gravy and onion topped with puff pastry with potato and neaps (turnip), followed by a trifle or some sort of cream cake.

Once that you are certain that you have enough alcohol for the night ahead and everything is set up for the nights activities, all that you have to do now is sit back and wait for midnight maybe with a little glass or two just to warm you up of course.

All is prepared and made on Hogmanay to save hangover mistakes on new years day.

The Bells

At the stroke of midnight, church bells ring to signify the beginning of a new year.
At the stroke of midnight, church bells ring to signify the beginning of a new year. | Source

A Scottish New Year Tradition

In Scotland it is tradition to open up the front door of your home on the stroke of midnight to let in the New Year then open up the back door of your home to let out the old year.

The Bells

On the stroke of midnight to signify the beginning of a new year, church bells ring, the cannon at Edinburgh castle is fired, ships in harbor sound their fog horns and fireworks are set off all around the country. In Scotland the stroke of midnight is called "The Bells"

After the bells it is traditional to wish everyone in your company a happy new year with a handshake or a kiss and drink a toast to the new year with a small dram of the amber nectar otherwise known as whisky.

First Foot and First Footing

If after the initial celebration of the new year you can either stay in and hope that someone will come to your home and first foot you or you can go out first footing and visit a friends home.

A first foot is the first person invited into your home in the new year and it is considered to be lucky if you are first footed early on new years day.

A first footer should be tall and dark haired if he/she wishes to bring luck into your home, of course if you are short or have a light hair color or even if you are bald so long as you have a piece of coal on your person as a gift for the household then the luck is still there. You should present the coal to the head of the household with the words "May yer lum aye reek".

The celebrations go on until the wee small hours of the morning and often well into the after noon of new years day.

Happy New Year!!!!


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Caught this today -- just wanting to wish you a Happy New Years also!

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Hey Jimmy, I forgot to wish you a Happy New Year! All the Best for 2013!

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      Hi Jimmy, although I used to enjoy first-footing when I was a teenager, nowadays I must be the worst Scot out because New Year bores me! Ever since we had kids I've headed off to bed before midnight, but I am quite proud of the fact that I saw the first dawn of the new Millennium! The daughter who got me up in time to see that dawn is now of course a teenager, so I might just be up till midnight tonight. We'll see.

      Happy New Year to you, anyway!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Happy New Year Jimmy! I remember "First Foot and First Footing" growing up at my grandmothers house. There was also a tradition of throwing a potato down the hall too.

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 5 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Ah, but this Hub brought memories! My fathjer was a"semi official" First Footer all his life, being dark haired! I used to go out with him, knocking on doors and of course, always being offered "a little something" ! I'm talking about New Year celebrations in Chile, of all places! And of course, bring on the amber nectar, there's never been a better drink! I hope you drink one to my health, those days are long gone for me now!

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Wondering if your home made Scotch broth is the same as the one we make in Italy. Just made a good beef broth to cook our lentils in, which is the tradition here. Takes several hours to make and it's very sweet tasting at the end. Good old fashioned grub.

      Loves your hub. Sharing and voting.

      Happy New Year to you and your family.


    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 5 years ago

      Very interesting, I had to share it on Facebook. Voted awesome! Happy New Year!