Hogmanay Festival 2012-13

| July 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

Experience Fire A-Blazing in Hogmanay Festival

Hogmanay Festival 2012-13

When it happens: December 2012 – January 2013
Where it happens: Edinburgh, Scotland

            Hogmanay festival is a Scottish festival celebrated on the last day of the year. It is synonymous to the New Year celebration of the Gregorian calendar, but it is celebrated in a Scottish manner. Usually, it is the start of the celebration which ends in the morning of January 1, New Year’s Day. However, in some cases in last until the 2nd day of January which is considered to be a Scottish Bank Holiday.

There are a number of customs associated with Hogmanay festival, both local and national. The most widespread national custom is “First-Footing”. First-Footing is a practice that starts immediately after the clock strikes twelve at night. It involves the first person to cross the doorstep of his neighbour or friend and giving the latter symbolic gifts such as coal, whisky, shortbread, and salt.

Another common symbolic gift is the black bun which is a rich fruit cake. These gifts are intended to provide different kinds of fortune to the household. As gifts, food and drinks are given to guests. This may go on until the early hours of the morning and even to the next day. The first-footing is supposed to set the fortune of people for the rest of the year. Traditionally, tall and dark men are preferred to be the first-foot.

Every area in Scotland develops their own way to celebrate the Hogmanay festival. If you happen to visit Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, they celebrate the festival with fireball swinging. You will see the local people creating balls of chicken wire and filling them with sticks, newspaper, rags, and other flammable materials.

The balls usually have a diameter of 2 feet and attached with 3 feet of chain, wire or any non-flammable rope. As the bell of the Old Town House rings, the balls are set alight to mark the New Year. You will see people swinging the burning balls as they parade from the Mercat Cross to the Cannon, and back. At the end of the ceremony, the burning fireballs are cast into the harbour where you will enjoy the display of lights floating in the seas. As you wait for midnight, you will also enjoy other attractions such as a pipe band, firework displays, street drumming, and fire poi.

Another custom of the Hogmanay festival is the singing of the song “Auld Lang Syne”. This has become common to other countries as well. When the clock strikes at midnight, the song is sung in a circle of people where your arms are linked to each other. However, the linking of the arms is only intended at the beginning of the last verse, where a line of the song tells you to do so. It is only in Scotland where you will experience the correct practice of this song.

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Category: Calendar, Europe Festivals, International Festivals, Scotland Festivals

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