Happy Hogmanay

untitledWhen I first moved to London twenty years ago, one of the first things that totally blew me away was how low key ‘Hogmanay’ actually is in England in comparison to my native Scotland. That’s right, I did say “Hogmanay.” It’s the biggest day in our festive calendar, so special, we even have our own name for it.

Until the 1950’s, Scottish people didn’t officially celebrate Christmas. Perhaps that’s where the “mean and tight-fisted” reputation originates. Christmas day only became a public holiday in 1958. The time for family celebrations always happened on the 31st December.

It is tradition to clean your house and clear all debts before midnight, or “before the untitled (2)bells” as it’s customary to say in Scotland. People will open their homes to family, friends, and even strangers to “first foot” them after the bell’s.

“First footing” is an established practice in Scotland. This describes a person who visits your home after the bells. Tradition not only states it should be a tall, dark, handsome male, but also carrying a piece of coal, shortbread, and whiskey. The latter being the most important ingredient to a Scott (a person from Scotland).

As “the bell’s” approach, everyone gathers with linked arms to welcome in the New Year, while singing Robert Burns’, “For auld lang syne.”

The translation for “For auld lang syne” is “old long since.” The song became popular in many parts of the world. It’s all about sharing a common goal of togetherness, of love, compassion and solidarity with family, friends and neighbours, and remembering our friends from the past.

When I first started blogging, I jumped in with two feet without really looking to see if there were blogs with a commonality. I had no idea what was in store. If I could find five followers, it would make it all worthwhile. What I didn’t bank on was the fellowship. The understanding. The validation. The support and the encouragement. The love, compassion, kindness, and togetherness.

The comments I get contribute to my journey. I consider each one carefully, and even discuss some in therapy. I often say blogging is akin to group therapy online. One of the most valuable aspects of blogging is what I learn from other blogs and I can only hope my contributions return even just a tiny fraction of their support.

So, as the clock prepares to leave behind Hogmanay 2014, I can’t help but reflect on a year that has often felt like a rollercoaster ride. If you’re reading this now then the chances are you have shared in that journey and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To everyone, I wish you a very happy and healthy New YearthH8DMKF2T

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35 thoughts on “Happy Hogmanay

  1. Cheryl-Lynn

    What a lovely post. A dear friend of mine was born in Scotland and she told me how her grandmother would leave the doors open for all to pop in New Year’s eve…my only visit abroad was 2 days in London and 10 days in Scotland and countryside of England. Scotland celebrates NY like we French Canadians do…perhaps that is where we got the custom:) May I reblog this lovely post on my other blog at Tracesofthesoul…Happy New Year to you and thank you for sharing your journey with us, it helps more than you know. Cheryl-Lynn aka Oliana

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    1. Cat Post author

      Happy New Year, Cheryl. Yes, people will leave their doors open at Hogmanay and it’s not unknown to have complete strangers joining in the celebrations in your home! You are very welcome to reblog, if it’s not too late. Thank you.

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    2. Cat Post author

      Oh…and… The word Hogmanay probably comes from French, so it’s highly possible the French Canadians and the Scots share some kind of commonality with celebrations

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  2. Priceless Joy

    I love this post! You have certainly contributed to making my blogosphere experience better Cat! I appreciate you very very much! I wish you a very Happy, Healthy, Properous, New Year filled with the best of everything wonderful. I can’t wait to find out where were are in our blogs one year from now. 🙂 It is going to be a truly wonderful year!

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    1. Cat Post author

      Happy New Year Joy… and you definitely contribute massively to my experience. Your blog is always variable, enjoyable and, most of all, it shares so much love and support within our community. Thank you 😉

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      1. Priceless Joy

        Thank you Cat! That is so very sweet! And, it means a LOT to me!I have been wanting to ask you. There is a 30ish woman that is new on this site that has depression, bi-polar-BPD that I have been wanting to tell you about. It is possible you already follow her but her WP name is scarredandscared. I assume it
        http://scarredandscared.wordpress.com. If that isn’t the right url, please let me know. Great big (((HUGS!!!))) for 2015!! XO

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  3. Life in a Bind - BPD and me

    You’ve returned much more than a tiny fraction Cat and I am so very very glad to have “met” you. I am so grateful for your posts, your comments on mine, for our dialogue for the way you convey insight and challenge me. “The show must go on” is playing right now on TV. It must , and I’m so glad that it goes on in the company of the fellowship you’ve described. Happy New Year Cat and may your travels be blessed in 2015 xxx

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    1. Cat Post author

      Sometimes something clicks with certain bloggers and you are one of them! It’s great how we ‘meet’ people who are going through similar experiences to our own. The one thing I find so difficult about therapy, particularly one-2-one, is the Therapist is fairly limited in what they will say in terms of advice, suggestions, and even challenges. In my experience, other bloggers can fill that gap. I have taken so many of our ‘discussions’ into my sessions and you have helped me understand so much about that process. I’m sure it was you who recommended ‘Psychotherapy in a Nutshell’ book, which also helped break down a number of my barriers. Wishing you lots of fulfilling therapy sessions and everything wonderful for 2015! 😉
      PS Did you watch the Queen concert last night? Absolutely amazing!

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      1. Life in a Bind - BPD and me

        Argh, just typed a long reply which I somehow lost!! But thank you so much for your reply, Cat. I completely agree – I also occasionally come across bloggers who I really feel I ‘click’ with, and that is certainly the case with you. I’m humbled to know you take some of our conversations into therapy – that hour is so precious and feels so short, it’s amazing to know what we talk about sometimes forms part of that hour for you. The same is true for me – I have certainly spoken to my therapist about ‘avoidance’ in therapy, and focusing in on certain topics. Yes, I did recommend that book, and I’m so glad that as with me, it helped break down some barriers. I really look forward to carrying on our conversations this year, and I hope you have some amazing mini-breakthroughs this year!
        I watched parts of the Queen concert and agree it was amazing – I’d never heard of the singer before, but he did an amazing job and I think it would be great to see them live. ‘The Show must go on’ is my favourite Queen song, so I’m glad that played just before the fireworks, and as I was replying to you! xx

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thanks Kat and a very happy – much better than last – new year to you! 😉 How are you? I do visit your blog daily, but you’re a little quiet these days…

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      1. kat

        thaks for asking Cat. I’m actually feeling pretty well–better than for what seems a eternity. Just haven’t been inspired to write for a while, so, just reading and commenting.

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        1. Cat Post author

          That’s really good to hear about your mood, Kat, it is a long time coming and for this time of year, you’re doing brilliantly 😉

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  4. cardamone5

    Hello, Mandy (saw your name in the comments above, sorry to scare you.) You were kind enough to follow my blog, and leave a comment. I am glad I checked you out because this is a great, and very informative post (never knew Hogmanay was more important than Christmas to Scots. I did know about the dark haired handsome person bringing short bread/scotch from reading Diana Gabaldon…what do you Scots think of her? Are you like, too Braveheart, or do you like her…maybe you’ve never heard of her? If not, romance novelist with a series of 8 books on a time traveling family.) Anyway, I will start back reading your posts to get some sense of the journey your referenced in this post, but I look forward to upcoming posts, and mutual sharing. Say hello to the Thames for me. I spent a semester in London. Loved to walk along its shores in the fog.

    Fondly,
    Elizabeth

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    1. Cat Post author

      Lol Elizabeth, I don’t know where the Mandy comes into it. My name’s Cat, Mandy is a follower of this blog 😉 The journey I refer to is laid out in previous posts. For the last few months, I have been posting about my therapy programme. Mentalization Based Therapy. One individual session and one group weekly. Quite a tough challenge but the results are amazing. I will look forward to you sharing that journey

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  5. Tracesofthesoul

    Reblogged this on Traces of the Soul and commented:
    Happy Hogmanay!! What a lovely tradition the Scots have! Ithink French Canadians are not far from that custom. New Year’s day all the men in families would go door to door visiting family, friends and sometimes acquaintances…have a glass of Cariboo (that warmed you up to get to the next place but you didn’t necessarily get there standing up if you had too many). My grandmother would cook for an army and there was always someone sitting at the table to eat Des ragouts de patte et boulettes with Tourtiere of course made from moose meat but many make it with veal/beef/pork.
    One thing that is nice about January 1st is that you have the entire month to wish someone a Happy New Year.

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  6. mincs1

    I stopped to read this post because the word Hogmanay caught my eye. I definitely learned something new so thank-you for that. I also became captivated by your story as you shared in this post and I look forward to learning more about your journey over the next year. I wish you continued success in 2015! Sincerely, Mary 🙂

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    1. Cat Post author

      It did surprise me just how many people didn’t know about our Scottish traditions.

      I hope you can share in my journey through this Happy New Year! Best wishes

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  7. Cate Reddell

    I have a good friend who lives in another part of New Zealand. I haven’t been able to see her for a number of years but your post reminded me of her. Going back to the 1980s she spent a few years living in Scotland and I remember the New Years after she came home and we first-footed at her home. It was a great memory and I am grateful to you for refreshing that memory. Thanks Cat, and take care of yourself.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Cate… and what would New Zealanders do for Hogmanay “the bells?” Do you guys go first-footing or parties?

      Oh… and a very Happy New Year, Cate, wishing the best of everything for you! How are things doing now? Your Mum? I hope you’re having some down-time 😉

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      1. Cate Reddell

        New Zealanders are into parties in a big way. Alcohol fueled unfortunately. It is only those who have spent time in Scotland who go first footing.

        As for me New Year was spent recovering from shifting Mum into her rest home. Now the task is to clear out her flat. Then I will really need recovery time. Meanwhile Mum is struggling in her new abode.

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  8. RisingSong

    Wow! I didn’t realize you Scotts had this great tradition! I could certainly use a holiday that encourages me to “clean my house and clear all debts” before midnight! Thank you for sharing this bit of history with us here across the pond.

    I understand what you mean about the comments. When I began blogging January two years ago, it was to get my thoughts and emotions out of my head and onto a platform where I could see them and perhaps understand them. Like you, I did not anticipate the comments, the support…the friends. Now I count on them, I feed on them, I thrive on them. It is, indeed, an integral part of my therapy.

    Thank you for taking us on your journey…it has been a pleasure to follow 🙂

    Happy Hogmanay, friend…may your 2015 skies be fair.

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