7 Fascinating Facts about Hogmanay

Nov 20, 2018

For three days, Hogmanay takes over the streets of the Scottish capital for the biggest party of its kind in the world.

To celebrate, here are a few weird and wacky facts about Scotland’s favourite event:

Happy New Year! Here’s some coal…

Everyone knows that First Footing is a key part of Hogmanay traditions. Swinging by the house of a neighbour just after midnight is said to bring luck for years to come.

It’s customary to take a gift. Nowadays it’s usually whisky or wine, but many NYE’s ago it was tradition to pop round bearing a lump of coal to throw on the fire.

A little disappointing for those hoping to break open a bottle of Single Malt…

Just what is ‘Hogmanay’?

The origins of the word ‘Hogmanay’ are still debated. The phrase can be traced back to Gaelic, Norman Dutch, and Flemish – so no one is still quite sure who came up with the idea.

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne is one of the most popular New Year’s songs and is sung all across the globe as the bells toll at midnight. Celebrated Scotsman Robert Burns is often attributed to having written the most iconic version, but the festive tune was not his alone. Old Robbie actually drew inspiration from another jingle with origins way before he began to pen today’s version.

The day Christmas was cancelled, for 400 years

Back in the days of the Protestant Reformation, the celebration of Christmas was a rarity across Scotland. There was no hide or hair of a turkey or present for 400 years, so Winter Solstice became the celebration of choice, which in itself eventually became Hogmanay.






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Ashes to ashes

One of the lesser known festivities in Hogmanay (if cleaning can be festive) is the act of ‘Redding the House’.

It’s customary to give the house a quick clean to ensure the New Year arrives at the home at its best.

With so many folks bringing coal over, the fire was the first thing to be cleaned out, and it was said that people’s future could be seen in the discarded ashes.


World’s worst/best hangover cure

Throwing oneself into the freezing waters of the Firth of Forth is supposedly the best cure for a Hogmanay hangover, at least according to three locals who first went for a dip back in 1986.

Since then, the New Year’s Day event has become an official part of Hogmanay celebrations and attracts thousands of dippers from across the nation.


And the World Record goes to…

Hogmanay is one of the biggest events on the Scottish calendar, with 100,000’s flocking to the capital for an annual street party.

In 2000, Edinburgh broke the World Record for the largest country dance event, with 1914 jigging along to “Strip the Willow”.

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