A Traditional Frenzy of Good Fun at Year’s End
This is the national holiday throughout Scotland, celebrated with special fervor in Edinburgh. It is the year’s ceilidh, the Big Event, when parties go on in houses, pubs, and village halls. In Edinburgh, it is also Europe’s greatest street party with song and dance morning. Its strongest tradition, inextricably carrying through the night and well into the linked to the good time enjoyed by all, is the consumption of great quantities of spirits (let’s remember where Scotch whisky originated) that pushes an already boisterous holiday over the top.
The famous Scottish dish the world loves to hate, haggis (a loosely packed mutton and oatmeal sausage boiled in a sheep’s stomach), plays a major role in the evening’s hours-long meal, often accompanied by dancing and the soulful wail of bagpipes. The meaning of “Hogmanay” has long been locked in controversy. It is said that it derives from either the Anglo-Saxon Haleg Monath (Holy Month) or the ancient Gaelic Oge Maidne (New Morning).
In some towns, Hogmanay is still called Cake Day because children used to go from door to door collecting gifts of cake and confections. What has survived the centuries is the Scots’ determination that the New Year begin on a happy note.