Around the world, many people come together on 31st December to celebrate the coming of the New Year. In Scotland, this is a very important occasion, which is called 'Hogmanay'. The tradition of Hogmanay comes from Viking times and for some time, the celebration was more popular in Scotland than Christmas. From early childhood, I remember large family gatherings on New Year's Eve where everyone would come together to 'bring in the bells'. Another common phrase in Scotland, 'bringing in the bells' refers to the ten-second countdown to midnight where bells chime all over Scotland to signify the beginning of the New Year. Most towns in Scotland have local celebrations with fireworks and family gatherings, but in the bigger Scottish cities, other events take place. Arguably, the best-known event for Hogmanay is the Edinburgh Street Party. Every year, Edinburgh hosts a delightful firework display outside of the castle and this is broadcast on TV for those watching the celebration from their homes. Also, in Edinburgh there is a Christmas Market with lots of nice gift ideas, many stalls with food and drinks, and also there are carnival rides. The atmosphere can only be described as electric! It is such an exciting event and all of the spectators are in a good mood as they wait to bring in the New Year bells! Another very popular event takes place in Stonehaven, where there is a 'Fireball Ceremony' which takes place along the street. Around forty men and women come together and wave fireballs around their heads, which is fabulous to witness! People line the streets hours beforehand to see the festival which begins at midnight on December 31st.
This year, I decided to stay in my home city which is Glasgow and bring in the bells at home for the first time! It was a great experience celebrating in Glasgow. My friend's 21st birthday was on Hogmanay, so we went out to a party in Glasgow which took place in a bar. We had a lovely night filled with birthday cake, cocktails and dancing, and we all sang 'Auld Lang Syne' at midnight. Despite being a Scottish song, 'Auld Lang Syne' is sung internationally on January 1st. There is a very friendly atmosphere in Glasgow, with everyone hugging each other and wishing each other a Happy New Year!
On New Year's Day in Scotland, it is traditional to have a meal with your family. My family always eat a steak pie with vegetables and we have a trifle for pudding, but this tradition varies from family to family. Another tradition I have to mention is the 'First Footing' tradition. Also from the time of the Vikings, this is the tradition where the first person to enter the home after Hogmanay has to bring something with them (usually something Scottish, like whisky or shortbread), otherwise it brings bad luck for the coming year. I like this tradition, as people are usually very generous with their first footing gifts. This year, our house received ginger wine and homemade shortbread.