When 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 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.