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Hogmanay… Scottish New Year

Well the turkey has been eaten, the presents opened and Santa has been and gone! Christmas is over and done with well, for another year at least! But the party’s not over just yet, in Scotland we’re just getting started!

In Scotland we are well known for throwing a good party and New Year or as it’s known locally Hogmanay is the biggest party of the year in Scotland! Glasgow and Edinburgh are now well known party locations where thousands gather outside and countdown to the New Year! Whilst in New York everyone watches the ball drop, Scotland holds a countdown to ‘the bells’ which ring out at midnight at Edinburgh castle and symbolise the New Year beginning.

There are various quintessentially Scottish traditions associated with Hogmanay, for example; after the bells ring everyone will shake hands and offer a kiss on the cheek to wish one another a Happy New . We then cross our arms joining hands with one another in a circle and sing Rober Burns classic Auld Lang Syne.

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot for auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”

The term auld lang syne is representative of notions of nostalgia and and days gone buy, in particular; those fondly remembered. It is when we sing these words that we reflect and raise a glass to the year past and the new one beginning.

Another popular tradition in Scotland is “First footing” this is the first foot in the house in the New Year. It was believed many years ago that it was good luck if the first footer were male, with dark hair and brought a gift such as coal, shortbread, salt, or whisky. It is still customary to give a gift when first footing, however; nowadays the gift is more commonly alcohol, shortbread, biscuits or sometimes even tea bags.

It is of course essential that you dress to impress to bring in the bells. The ladies will wear nice dresses and the gents wear suits and often kilts, trews and highland wear (enter Houston’s!).

These are some of our New Year’s traditions let us know yours!

Wherever you celebrate, and whatever you are doing Houston’s hope you are surrounded by loved ones and wish you all luck, love and good health in 2013!

For Auld Lang Syne!

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Christmas Scotland traditions traditions

Scottish Christmas

It’s that time of year again! In less than a week Santa will have visited all the good little boys and girls, the presents will have been opened, the dinner cooking away, the Christmas music blasting from every home, and family fun and festivities will be in full swing!
Many standard traditions will be fulfilled such as your grandparents or parents giving their annual ‘you don’t know how lucky you are…all I got in my day speech’. My Gran claims she got an apple and orange for Christmas. It would explain why she’s still going strong at 90 years old, you know what they say; an apple a day…
However, it seems that the concept of a traditional Christmas is a very distant memory. There are more homes with central heating than fires and kiddies receiving technological gifts from Santa such as mobile phones and iPods instead of bears and dolls but some things never change. In Scotland, even in changing times we like so many others will surround ourselves with family and the ones we love. We swap gifts, enjoy drinks and get all dressed up (even if we are just going to a family members house). Many will decide to stay in their pyjamas all day as Christmas is their first day to relax after the crazy working period leading to the 25th but most will stay in their pyjamas instead of venturing outside into the often adverse weather conditions!
Then, the food! Maybe its purpose is to heat everyone up but soup tends to be a popular starter! Scotland’s traditional Christmas dinner like many other countries is turkey with all the trimmings. Other dishes include steak pie or beef. The table is always set with crackers in place, the crackers will be pulled, the terrible joke told and then your lovely outfit will be accompanied by a silly paper crown. One family member will of course decide this is the time to take a photograph, thanks for that!
As the day draws in and things calm down, the family will often collect in one room and listen to music or watch the Queen’s speech, or Christmas movies. You quickly realise the meaning of Christmas when you realise how much you have laughed and enjoyed the day and look around at the people who made that possible.
On that note we would like to wish a very Merry Christmas to you and yours from Houston Kiltmakers in Paisley. We hope you have a fantastic day!