Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year. It’s an unusual word and the etymology is uncertain, but the first written record of it dates back to 1604.
Historically, in Scotland New Year was more important than Christmas, which people were discouraged (at times even banned) from celebrating. The new year therefore, was the main time for getting together with family and exchanging gifts.
There are many customs associated with Hogmanay. The most famous of these is one which has been adopted by much of the English-speaking world, and that is to link hands at midnight and sing Auld Lang Syne.
Another important tradition is “first footing”. The first person to cross your threshold after midnight is said to indicate your luck for the rest of the Year. Tall, dark men are preferred, probably dating back to the times of the Viking invasions when a blonde man knocking your door wouldn’t have been a sign of good things to come!
The first-footer should bring gifts of coal for the fire, shortbread and whisky to toast the new year.