For Auld Lang Syne

Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Tonight is the last night of 2010. In various corners of the world people will observe the passing of the old year and welcome the new. The publication of various “top ten” lists from top science news to top gadgets this week reminds us that this is a time for reflecting on the events of the past year before welcoming the opportunities and challenges of the new. In reality of course, it is true that any day can be treated as the first day of the rest of your life, but there is an added significance when the calendar changes as well, heralding the gift of another year, another opportunity to start afresh.

In Scotland New Year’s Eve (or Hogmanay) is a big deal, almost a bigger holiday than Christmas. Originating from the old Celtic winter solstice celebrations, the festivities go on all night and are marked in Edinburgh and Glasgow by spectacular fireworks displays and streets packed with revelers. Google “Hogmany” and you can find a variety of traditions associated with this holiday. Some have (thankfully) died out long ago (like dressing up in animal skins and being beaten with sticks), however the traditions of first footing, gathering with friends, and ringing the bells at midnight are still going strong. Continue reading