Hogmanay, the last day of the year, is approaching, though surely we’re all in agreement that this year, it hasn’t come quite fast enough. While we in the States are whipping up cheese balls, unpacking those new board games, and chilling our bottles of bubbly to give 2020 the marvelous, emphatic, Zoom-sponsored sendoff that this year deserves, the Scottish have historically celebrated this day in some pretty unique ways.
The “first footing” is one that we found quite charming. First footing refers to the first person to cross the threshold of your home after the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Day. Historically, it was said that a dark-haired male would bring the most luck and good fortune through the new year, as fair-complected individuals weren’t favored after the Viking invasion. Throughout the years, though, it has come to be that friends or family with good vibes are acceptable.
“Redding the house” was another custom. It is said that entering the new year with a home that isn’t in proper order would bring bad luck. Redding the house, kind of like an end of year spring cleaning, was a way to help bring all the good blessings your way.
Fire ceremonies also played a big part in welcoming the new year. Stonehaven has been the site for infamous fireball ceremonies, continuing still today. People come from all over to watch or partake, parading through the fishing village with torches lit, or, for the truly courageous, swinging balls of fire over their heads. The fire represents sun and light, and is thought to drive away evil spirits.
No matter how you plan to ring in 2021, we think it’s safe to say, doing so with a clean house, welcoming a kind guest through your door at midnight, and maybe even slinging a ball of fire over your head (or lighting a sparkler), couldn’t hurt, as the world could surely use all of the luck and good blessings we can muster right about now!