Posted by: christinelaennec | December 31, 2013

Happy Hogmanay!

Can you believe it’s the last day of the year?  In Scotland, New Year’s Eve is known as Hogmanay.  In times gone by, New Year’s was a much more important holiday in Scotland than Christmas was.  I remember going with the Dafter’s school class to the Aberdeen City Archives, where we were shown the school records for Christmas Day in a Victorian school.  I’ve been told that even in the 1970s, quite a few people worked on Christmas Day – but New Year’s, and the days following, were holidays for everyone.  Tina has published a post that explains the history behind this here.

Tilly waiting in the bay window for Michael and I to return from an evening walk.

Tilly waiting in the bay window for Michael and me to return from an evening walk.

These past few days for us have been days of rest, company – friends old and new – and there have been quite a few opportunities for Michael and I to get out just the two of us.  A rare treat!  At the weekend, we ventured into town.  We were early enough that it was very enjoyable:

Fraser's Department Store, Glasgow.  End of December, 2013.

Fraser’s Department Store, Glasgow. End of December, 2013.

Do you know, I do love a good department store!  But that’s the subject of another post.  We had a coffee in a cafe just off these balconies, and it was just such a treat.

In case you think I’m making it up about Hogmanay, here’s the sign outside John Lewis (see the reflection of Michael patiently waiting for me to take another crazy photo?):

"We close on Hogmanay at 5 pm" John Lewis, Glasgow.  End of December, 2013.

“We close on Hogmanay at 5 pm” John Lewis, Glasgow. End of December, 2013.

This morning we explored a different part of Glasgow, and I found myself thinking I’d stumbled back home into Oregon somehow:

The fossil grove, Victoria Park, Glasgow.  End of December, 2013.

The fossil grove, Victoria Park, Glasgow. End of December, 2013.

This is such a special time of year.  A time to look backwards and reflect (so many blessings to count!), and a time to look forwards to a fresh start, and new discoveries.  “Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky” as the Tennyson verse goes.  This year we actually have a front and a back door to open, to let out the old year and let in the new.  I will miss hearing the boats blow their horns in Aberdeen harbour, but I daresay there may be some fireworks going off around our new neighbourhood, and a spirit of celebration.

Here’s to 2014!  I hope it brings you all peace, and every blessing.  Ooh, I can’t wait!!



  1. Happy and healthy 2014 to all.

    • Wishing you and the DP a great 2014. I look forward to more of your art and your irreverent comments about life!

  2. Have a wonderful New years eve and a Happy en healthy 2014 !

  3. May 2014 bring every kind of happy blessing to you and yours! 🙂 lots of love, xxx

  4. Like you I just love a good department store! Oxford doesn’t yet have a John Lewis – only a rather sad Debenham’s – and I feel a bit deprived.
    I’m so glad you and Michael have been managing to get out together.
    And it really is true that New Year used to be the festival in Scotland. When my sister and I were children, there were one or two very elderly friends of our parents who gave us our presents at New Year, not at Christmas.

    • That’s interesting to read, Flora. The French give New Year’s presents, don’t they? “Etrennes”. A very happy New Year to you and the family.

  5. Have a wonderful Hogmanay Christine. And I’m wishing a very happy, healthy and great New Year.See you next year.
    Erna x

    • Excellent! A wonderful 2014 to you and your family, Erna.

  6. I am so glad your holidays have been such fun this year. I hope 2014 is even better for your whole family.

    Tell me how you let the Old Year out with out a backdoor – we don’t have a back door, just a basement door down a long flight of rickety stairs, . and we are not going to do that.


    • Linda, we used to open the windows at the front and the windows at the back (of what in American is the 2nd floor, 1st floor in Britain).

  7. Mmmm, I’d love to see that department store, too!
    I wish you all a wonderful new year!

    • I will have to blog about department stores, clearly! All the very best to you for this new year.

  8. I hope we might see more of the Fossil Grove in your blog anon, it looks intriguing. I love this time of the year too, a chance to turn over a new leaf and look forward to good things in the year ahead. My dad was talking just today about how his father used to work on Christmas Day but always got New Year’s Day off. I remember first footing a neighbour when I was wee, and taking along a lump of coal and some shortbread. I didn’t know that the ships tooted their horns in Aberdeen Harbour to mark the new year, I like the sound of that. A very Happy New Year to you and the family. 🙂

    • Ha ha Lorna – you would really like the sound of the horns, it’s quite a chorus!

  9. Happy New Year when it comes to you and family, Christine! I hope you enjoy your first Hogmanay and New Year’s Day in Glasgow, and that 2014 brings you lots more positive experiences.

    • Thank you, Linda. I wish for you and yours a much calmer year ahead, with peace, health and plenty of time to relax in the countryside.

  10. I’m wondering whether you have ‘first footers’ at your house? And do you invite such people, or are tall, dark young men out knocking on doors like trick-or-treaters?

    When I was emptying out my mother’s house recently I discovered in the drawer of her hall table near the front door a couple of black rock-like objects. They mystified me at first, but then I concluded that they were objects (perhaps coal??) for ‘first footers’ to carry over the threshold and bring good luck.

    I’m not a great believer in superstitions, but such customs seem to have a certain charm, and if I thought bringing you a lump of coal just after midnight would forever change your life for the better, I’d be there in a flash!
    Best wishes for 2014 and way beyond that.

    • oldblack, I had intended to write a bit about first-footing. When we first came to Aberdeen, the streets were busy after midnight and on into the wee hours with folk of all ages “first-footing”. Houses had their lights on and there was a real air of festivity. We were told you should take shortbread and something useful with you when first-footing – if not a lump of coal, then potscrubbers or the like! The person being first-footed should have whisky on hand to offer. And yes, tall, dark strangers were hoped for.

      In recent years, we first-footed our downstairs neighbours at a more reasonable hour on New Year’s Day – a tradition we hope to continue tomorrow afternoon, as they obligingly also moved to Glasgow this summer. It will be fun to see who our “first-footer” will be this year in our new house! (We do have a very small amount of whisky on the premises.) I remember one extremely difficult year we had no visitors until about the 12th of January and that person was completely shocked that they were our first-footer for the year.

      Yes, these traditions do have a certain power to them. (Who was it who said, “The language of the heart is the wish”?) And how kind of you to offer to drop everything and zoom over to bring us prosperity. My Michael remarked that it was already 2014 in Australia late this afternoon, and I thought of you. Happy New Year!

  11. Well now we know about Hogmanay. (I had to copy & paste, lol.) It was fun reading your blog. Wishing you a very Hogmanay, oh heck, Happy New Year! May 2014 be your blogging best. And every other best, too.

    • Thanks, Kathy! I love “every other best” – it wouldn’t be difficult to surpass 2013 in terms of blogging, as I feel my blog suffered quite a bit. Fingers crossed!

  12. Wonderful thoughts Christine and the dept. store display is very pretty. Wishing you many more cherished moments in the coming year. xo Karen

    • Thank you Karen! And the very same to you in your House in the Woods.

  13. Hello, dear friend.
    I have a few wishes for you.
    May 2014 bring you much joy.
    May we all have peace in our homes,
    laughter by our firesides,
    time spent with family,
    and contentment in our hearts.
    Be well, my friend.

    • Thank you Relyn. Those are lovely wishes. I hope 2014 brings you and your beautiful family many happy times together, peace and blessings.

  14. Best wishes for 2014 to you and all your loved ones. Happy new year!

  15. A very interesting new year’s tradition, Christine. Thank you for sharing it! Those balcony lights are magnificent, too!

    In the South, we feast on ham (though not I because I’m a vegetarian) for bounty in the future, black-eyed peas for good luck, and cabbage for prosperity. And it’s still only the eighth day of Christmas! ❤

    • Stacy, I thought about black-eyed peas at New Year! All the best to you and yours for 2014.

  16. Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy new year. I hope its a good one for you. x

  17. Happy New yr to you allI really enjoy reading your blog . In Lancashire we too prefer a tall dark man to be the ” first footer” .He should bring coal and a piece of bread this is symbolic of keeping you warm and fed in the forthcoming yr we then all go out in the road and link arms to sing “Auld Lang Syne ” all the very best to you and yours Sue x

    • That all sounds very Scottish, Susan! Very interesting. Thanks for your kind words about my blog, too. Wishing you all the best for 2014.

  18. I love the idea of Hogmanay, first-footers, and all sorts of festive activity. When I was a child, we would open the windows and shout, “Happy New Year!” at the top of our lungs and bang pot lids together. No one does that anymore, although there was quite a bit of firecracker action into the wee hours. Somehow, that’s just not the same, is it?

    • Our children used to do quite a bit of shouting Happy New Year from the windows in years gone by! Shared festivities can be so much fun. I dare say if we didn’t most of us have tvs, we’d be banging pots and pans a bit more!

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