A Very Scottish Hogmanay

Scottish Hogmanay Traditions

There’s nothing quite like celebrating the end of another year with family and friends. It’s a chance to get together and have a wee jolly. Drink to past achievements and toast future success. But while the rest of the world gathers round local watering holes on 31st December to welcome in the New Year, Scotland embarks on a three-day celebration all our own. So, if you’re planning on spending New Year in Scotland, here are a few Hogmanay traditions you should know about.

Singing “Auld Langs Syne”

This Scots-language poem, written by Robert Burns in 1788, and sung to the tune of an old folk song, is the way we welcome in the new year. So, at the stroke of midnight, link hands and sing out loud, as a new year begins.

This custom actually started in the USA. On New Year’s Eve 1929, when a live broadcast of the song was first played by Guy Lombardo and his band in New York City. But the song has Scottish roots … and we proudly continue the tradition here every Hogmanay.

Redding oot the hoose

Traditionally, the new year is time to clean out the house, known in Scotland as “redding oot the hoose”. Rather like spring cleaning. As Hogmanay approaches, give your house a thorough clean and tidy. Because it’s bad luck to start the new year with an untidy and disorganised house.

First footing

Start the New Year off on the right foot by welcoming a tall, dark stranger into your home. While it may be good practice to be weary of strange men bearing gifts throughout the year, during Hogmanay, first-footers are a nationwide treasure. Carrying symbolic gifts such as salt, coal, whiskey and shortbread over the threshold of a friend or neighbour, first-footing is said to set good luck for the rest of the year. So while it’s tradition to open the door and invite good fortune in, if you see a small blond woman heading your way, hit the lights, close the drapes and wait for the bad omen to pass.

Having a Hogmanay hoolie

Hogmanay, has all the elements of a traditional New Year’s celebration – good food, great music, and of course, loads of dancing. And since we Scots don’t do anything in half measures, Hogmanay celebrations are among some of the largest in the world.

Here in Inverness, you can join over 10,000 Highlanders and visitors from around the world in the largest free Hogmanay party in Scotland. Inverness’ annual Hogmanay party, the Red Hot Highland Fling, is a fun-loving, traditional celebration for the whole family. The celebrations get underway on High Street in the family-friendly Hogmanay warm up, the Wee Hot Highland Fling. Then we party into the new year with music, dancing, fireworks and festive cheer.

Or, if the Highland fling isn’t your scene, why not join us for a very stylish Hogmanay Gala Ball at The Kingsmills? Enjoy a delightful 5-course Gala Dinner, live entertainment and a traditional Ceilidh. And if you plan on dancing into the wee sma’ hours, check in to one of our luxurious rooms and welcome the New Year in true Scottish style.