Once again it is the last day of the year, Hogmanay! The desperate need we all feel for a mid winter festival to encourage us to look toward the coming Spring is dealt with by the Scots by using Christmas as a religious festival and a time of giving to the kids, and by using the New Year celebration as a time for much
drunkenness celebration . Possibly this reflected the Calvinistic background that had much influence since the Reformation. The sober folks of the day were disinclined to encourage the observance of Christmas for a great many years. Today things have changed, English domination of the media has encouraged many to use Christmas as an excuse for booze, and many in the south now pretend the New Year means something to them, although a Bacchanalian festivity is all that really matters to most. I first ventured out on such festivities along with my sister and her husband in the 60's. It was an enjoyable time had by all, wandering the streets from house to house, meeting good people and having a ball. Today I am less interested and may well be asleep when the New Year arrives, and not because of the drink I must add. I am not convinced that attitudes today are similar to those fun filled evenings. It seems to me there is a 'harder' edge to things today.
The New Year of course does not begin until midnight and greetings are not exchanged before then, usually. However on the first chime of the clock greetings, kisses, and drinks are exchanged and the first footing follows on shortly after the year has begun. Celebrants will drag themselves to neighbours houses, carrying gifts, it used to be coal and Black Bun, the coal is less common today! Householders hope for a tall dark stranger to arrive on their doorstep, and I know quite a few women who would like that most days if truth be told but that is another thing, and welcomed guests are offered food and drink, mostly drink! Such activities go on through the dawn, and often are repeated the next night. The day after this few curtains are drawn back before noon. The New Year has been welcomed in, 'Auld Lang Syne' has been sung (badly), first footing has taken place, drink and food consumed, the Heart of Midlothian have defeated Hibernian again in the derby, and we face the new year hoping for good things, in reality knowing it will continue much the same as before.
May your Hogmanay be a good one!