Hogmanay Traditions to Celebrate the New Year

It’s that time of year again! After another long year, it’s nearly time to celebrate Hogmanay. Out with the old and in with the new. We hope you’re ready for it – but in case you’re not, here are some Hogmanay traditions to get you in the spirit!

But first, what does Hogmanay mean?

What Is Hogmanay?

Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year (December 31st) and all the celebrations that come with it to bring in the new year. It goes back to the days of the Vikings and celebrations of the winter solstice.

Hogmanay Traditions

Many believe that the Vikings brought a lot of traditional Hogmanay celebrations to Scotland when they invaded in the 8th and 9th centuries, which have survived in Scotland to this day. So, to get you in the spirit, here are some Scottish Hogmanay traditions, passed down through the generations, that will get you excited for the new year …

Redding the house

So you can start the new year fresh with a clean house, ‘redding the house’ doesn’t mean painting it red. It means cleaning it! In the 1800s it was considered bad luck to start the new year with a dirty house, so you have until midnight to get everything spick and span.

First footing

As New Year’s Day arrives, the first person to enter the Scottish household (the ‘first foot’) is thought to bring good fortune for the year ahead. For many years, Scottish households welcomed strangers into their house to earn good luck, so the first footer should traditionally be someone who was not in the house at the stroke of midnight. But don’t worry! It is a common tradition to have someone simply leave the house just before midnight so they can knock on the door afterwards.

The first foot usually comes bearing gifts for the household. A coin, bread, salt, a lump of coal, and whisky, to represent prosperity, food, flavour, warmth and good cheer for the year ahead. It is also traditional that the first foot be a dark-haired man to ensure good luck.

Baking a black bun

A black bun is a traditional Scottish cake for celebrating the new year, a fruity dessert of shortcrust pastry, raisins, currants, brandy, and spices. Scottish families would often prepare a black bun in early December and let it mature throughout the month ready for the Hogmanay feast.

Lighting the fireplace

Lighting a fire has always been important in Hogmanay tradition, representing the light of the sun to ward off evil spirits. If you have a working fireplace, don’t forget to clean it out, start a new fire by midnight, and gather round with all the family.

Haggis, neeps and tatties

Of course, what better way to celebrate Hogmanay than with our national dish. A nice plate of haggis, neeps and tatties for dinner will do perfect for bringing in the new year.

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

We all know this one! Of course, how could we start the new year without joining hands and singing Robert Burns’ ‘Auld Lang Syne’ immediately after midnight?

Whatever you choose to do, we hope you have a delightful Hogmanay and a Happy New Year! And, if you want to celebrate in style, don’t forget to check out Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations!

What will the new year bring for you? A nice holiday in a luxury guest house? A wedding in a beautiful Scottish castle? Take a look at our services to see how we can make your year better than the last!

Set in a picturesque location, Barcaldine Castle is on the banks of Loch Creran. There’s so much to do!

Don’t take our word for it, see what other people have said about their stay

Aleksandra Lebedeva
Aleksandra Lebedeva
December 27, 2023.
This is an amazing place to stay for a big group! Normally the castle operates as a hotel, but we got it for an exclusive use for 6 couples during Christmas. Each couple got a separate bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, each offering its unique vibe. There is a large main hall with a long table for your celebration(s) that has a huge fireplace for cozy evenings. Adjacent is a small lounge with a small bar area where you can helpf yourself with a cocktail. The interriors are well maintained and you get immersed into the vibe of a couple of centuries ago. It was also decorated for Chirstmas (incl. a Christmas Tree) which was a nice addition. Before arriving we had expected stone cold castle inside and were prepared with thick sweaters and socks but the rooms were surprisingly warm. The castle is located in a walking distance from a loch surrouneded by farms with cows, chickens and turkeys. It is also a good base for exploring Scotland with an aprox. 1-hour drive to Glencoe or Glenfinnan. The kitchen was professionally equipped (because it is a hotel) and had all the cookware you may ever need for your cooking as well as enough tableware and cutlery for your large squad. Only thing to be aware of is that the kitchen is one floor below the main hall so you will need to do some leg excersice bringing plates up and down.
Manilyn Ritchie
Manilyn Ritchie
November 12, 2023.
An amazing stay where history meets luxury, we stayed at argyll Room, the pillows, and the mattress is very comfortable and had a sound sleep, we also have a nice touch with our disposable sleepers and a bathrobes..complete set of coffee maker. The breakfast is very nice, stayed in the living room with the log fire ? roaring the night before while enjoying our drink.. the staff are very kind and friendly, the room was clean.. so yeah, I would definitely come back and highly recommend the place..
B Ritchie
B Ritchie
November 7, 2023.
What a lovely stay booked this last minute. It's a luxury stay that combines history, we spent 1 night and couldn't fault it. The room is cosy and comfortable with a luxury touch on it.. maybe a magic mirror ? the lounge room/ dinning room is what we loved on our nights stay, we sat on the sofa at the log fire with our drinks in hand . The host and staff are amazing and made sure our stay that we were well looked after . Definitely would recommend and come back again, thanks for our wonderful stay.
Ilja Gellart
Ilja Gellart
October 31, 2023.
Very relaxing place.
S Walmsley
S Walmsley
October 27, 2023.
Wonderful welcome on arrival. The castle is small but stunning. Stayed in the Caithness room. Very characterful - loved the turret room. Beautiful views. Enjoyed sitting by the open fire in the evening, and chatting to another couple of guests. Breakfast was enjoyable. Didn't see, or hear any spooks, but I'm sure they're about. Thoroughly recommend a night or two here. Take a bottle of wine, a book, and walking shoes.
Cole Young
Cole Young
October 9, 2023.
This place is amazing. Hard to put into words.
Steven Hatten
Steven Hatten
October 4, 2023.
The staff at the Castle was amazing. They did a fantastic job making us all feel at home while we were there including going above and beyond in several instances. The castle was beautiful and the views were unbelievable. Highly recommend for anyone looking to get away from it all but still treated like family.
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