San Diego Scottish Highland Games

2024 Highland Games June 22-23

2024 Highland Games June 22-23

Hogmanay in Scotland

New Year’s Eve in Scotland is called Hogmanay. This joyful gathering was especially celebrated in the years when Christmas was ‘banned’, and celebrations could last for days! Edinburgh now hosts one of the world’s biggest and most famous Hogmanay street parties, with an amazing fireworks display. All over the country, Scottish people brighten up the dark winter with music, poetry and bonfires.

There are plenty of Scottish Hogmanay traditions, some dating back centuries and some only a few decades old. Certainly the most famous is the singing of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, which was written by the iconic Scottish poet Robert Burns and sees people gathering together and linking arms to sing in unison. This became a popular convention by the mid-20th century. There are other poems and songs by writers like Robert Louis Stevenson that celebrate Hogmanay and the passing of the year, but nothing holds a haggis to Burns’s classic song.

Scotland also has some weird and wonderful Hogmanay events. The Stonehaven Fireballs Festival has its roots in pagan traditions – for nearly a century, residents of this Aberdeenshire town have paraded along the streets on Hogmanay, swinging giant fireballs to drive evil spirits away and purge the old year.

In Orkney you’ll need to fight for a view of the Kirkwall Ba’ on New Year’s Day, which sees almost the entire town turned into a football pitch for a chaotic and competitive kickabout! In Burghead in Moray, the ‘burning of the clavie’ involves carrying a flaming tar-filled barrel through the streets on 11 January (the Gaelic New Year’s Eve, dating back to the time before the Gregorian calendar was adopted).

Some Scots like to encourage good luck in the new year by doing a spot of ‘redding’ and cleaning their house from top to bottom (a good one for getting the children involved) on Hogmanay. It’s also meant to be bad luck to clean or do laundry on New Year’s Day – in case you sweep or wash away the good luck! So instead of cleaning, the more thick-skinned of us may take part in the Loony Dook – a modern tradition where people take a dip in the Firth of Forth on New Year’s Day.

(Sourced from

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