It’s amazing to think that during my lifetime, Christmas Day was a normal working one for many in Scotland and New Year was the big holiday. In many households, gifts were exchanged on New Year’s Day rather than Christmas.
Growing up in Scotland in the 60’s and 70’s, Hogmanay and New Year was a kind of magical mystery time. The house was tidied up on Hogmanay, everything dusted and polished.
It was the first time when staying up beyond midnight was officially sanctioned and alcohol was taken – probably a shandy made from dad’s beer, ginger wine or a mild drink like a sip of the snowball your mum was drinking.
There was all the rigmarole of first footing where neighbours would wander from house to house having impromptu parties of varying length,music being played, songs being sung. You needed a bit of coal, a dram and some black bun or shortbread (and a wee minding*) if you were a serious first foot.
New Year, new hope, glad that ones over – maybe next year will be better. ‘Lang may yer lum reek!’ ‘May the best of ’70 be the worst of ’71!’ ‘slainte!’ The White Heather Club, Robin Scott and Jimmy McGregor, Jimmy Shand, Andy Stewart and Jimmy Logan on the telly.
Sneaking another sip of the bevvy when no one was looking.
Steak pie for New Year’s lunch with some attendees the worse for wear.
It really was like that. Or at least it is in my head.
The old traditions may have largely died out but wherever you are from and for whatever your reason for dropping by this outpost of the internet, let me wish you the warmest and happiest of New Year wishes from Scotland for 2011.
*small token or gift