"O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to heaven is sent;
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content"
Robbie Burns

Monday, December 31, 2007


It's that time of year with Christmas behind us for another year as we look forward to a night of merriment. New Year's Eve IS the holiday of the year for many a Scot as it is for North Americans. In recent years all over Scotland there are street fairs and celebrations for families an couples alike. But what of older traditions? 

Scotland is a Celtic nation with a strong tie to their Celtic traditions. In the past the Celtic new year was November 1st with All Hallows Eve (our Halloween ) as the New Years Eve. As the Celtic traditions merged with the encroaching Christian tradition this was lost. But some of the traditions of the the old Hogmanay celebrations still continue and are embraced by North Americans of Scots decent. 

Redding- This is the tradition where the women of the house would clean the house or cottage from top to bottom and especially the hearth. The last fire's ashes would be read much like our tea leaves to find out what the fortune of the new year would bring. The idea was to start the new year afresh with a new fire. Also all business and debts were reconciled before or on the last day of the year so as to start the new year afresh. 

First footing- On the evening when the bells strike midnight the people would leave their homes and visit their neighbors. Tradition has it the first person across your threshold on Hogmanay should be a dark haired handsome male, who will ensure the household good fortune for the new year. This first footer would care a bit of coal to ensure warmth for the family and a bit of shortbread ( or oats) to ensure the family would not have want of food int he next year. Some local traditions also included the first footer to bring a Cake for the children (St Andrews) or they carried a decorated herring ( Dundee).  The families would not want the first footer to a woman or a red haired man. 

But the most well know tradition that has embraced by the entire world has been the singing and piping  of  Robert Burns Auld Lang Syne.   Few people sing it in the traditional Scots. Here is the way it should be sung: 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
And auld lang syne? 

For auld lang syne, my dear, 
For auld lang syne, 
We'll tak a cup of kindness yet, 
For auld lang syne!

And surely ye'll be your pint-stowp
And surely I'll be mine, 
And we'll tak a coup of kindness yet, 
For auld lang syne!

We twa hae run about the braes 
And pou'd the gowans fine, 
But we've wandere'd monie 
a weary fit, Sin auld lang syne. 

We twa hae paild'd in the burn 
Frea morning sun till dine, 
But seas between us braid hae roar'd 
Sin auld lang syne.

And there's a hand my trusty fiere, 
And gie's a han of  thine
And we'll tak a right guild-willie waught, 
For auld lang syne. 


1 comment:

LK Hunsaker said...

Nice info. :-)

You might also be interested in "How the Scots Created the Modern World" by Arthur Herman. My mom gave me a copy of it a while back. (She's also who introduced me to Gerard Butler.) We share a love of all things Scottish.