What is Hogmanay and how is it celebrated?

  • 31 December 2016
Fireworks Image copyright PA
Image caption A Hogmanay firework display in Edinburgh, Scotland

Scotland gets ready to welcome the new year with Hogmanay celebrations.

Thousands of people gather in Edinburgh, in Scotland, every year for a big parade, food and fireworks.

They are celebrating Hogmanay - which is a Scottish word that means 'new year'.

Hogmanay celebrations take place all over Scotland and lasts for three days, beginning at the end of December and ending on January 2nd.

How did it begin?

Image copyright AP
Image caption People dressed as Vikings take part in the traditional Torchlight Procession before Hogmanay in Edinburgh.

There are lots of different stores as to how Hogmanay began, but many people think that some of the traditional Hogmanay celebrations were brought to Scotland by the Vikings in the 8th and 9th Centauries.

Fires were lit to ward off 'evil spirits' and celebrate the arrival of Winter Solstice.

The first written mentions of "Hogmanay" come from 1604, although many of the traditions come from before that.

Around 450 years ago, there were many arguments about the Christian religion in a period called the 'Reformation'.

Celebrating Christmas was discouraged, and as a result celebrations around the New Year became more popular in Scotland.

Despite the fact that celebrating Christmas became popular in Scotland again, many people continued to celebrate Hogmanay as well.

Hogmanay traditions

There are lots of traditions which people take part in to celebrate Hogmanay.

One of the first is to clean the house and remove any old ashes in the fire - this is to symbolise clearing out the old year to welcome in the new one.

'First-footing' is also a tradition celebrated at Hogmanay.

To bring good luck to their homes, the first person through the door on Hogmanay should bring things like coal, shortbread or cake.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Thousands of people take part in a torchlight parade through the streets of Edinburgh in Scotland in preparation for Hogmanay.

Fire and fireworks are a big part of Hogmanay celebrations, which link back to the idea of warding off 'evil spirits'.

A huge fiery parade usually takes place to mark the start of Hogmanay, where some people dress up in Viking clothing.

When the clock strikes midnight on New Year's eve it is tradition for people to hold hands and sing 'Auld Lang Syne', the words to which were written by famous Scottish poet Robert Burns.

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