December 24, 2008
The Scots have many customs surrounding the celebration of Hogmanay. The redding, or getting ready for the New Year is done by cleaning the entire house and making it spotless. It’s considered bad luck to welcome in the New Year in a home that’s not clean and tidy. Customs for good luck include placing pieces of a Rowan tree above a door, putting mistletoe in the house to prevent sickness, holly kept out annoying little fairies out to cause mischief, and yew and hazel were believed to protect everyone who lived in the house. Finally, juniper is burned. then the doors are opened to get fresh air into the house. It’s then ready for the New Year.
New Year’s Bells signify the beginning of the New Year, when people gather together and sing Auld Lang Syne. In Scotland, they go visiting friends and family, and always bring a bottle of “cheer” to toast the New Year. In Aberdeen, the boats in the harbor and on the North Sea sound their horns, and can be heard far and wide.
If company arrives before the bells chime at midnight, they must leave until the chimes have finished to prevent bad luck. At the last stroke of midnight, the back door of the house is opened to let out any bad luck, and the front door is opened to bring in good luck. The custom of making New Year’s Resolutions came from the Scots, and may have started in Victorian times. Although some resolutions are frivolous, something like a resolution to find ways to help others is a meaningful way to start off the New Year.