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The origins and practice of hogmanay

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A brief outline of the history and practice of hogmanany

A brief outline of the history and practice of hogmanany


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  • 1. THE ORIGINS AND PRACTICE OF HOGMANAY Cameron Kippen toeslayer2000@yahoo.com.au
  • 2. Etymology Hogmanay was first recorded in 1604 in the Elgin Records as hagmonay (delatit to haue been singand hagmonayis on Satirday); and again in 1692 in an entry of the Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence, "It is ordinary among some plebeians in the South of Scotland to go about from door To door upon New-years Eve, crying Hagmane." The etymology of hogmanay remains obscure and may arise from a French, Norse or a Goidelic (Insular Celtic) root.
  • 3. The Festival of the Dead In the old Celtic calendar, New Year fell on the 1st November and was called Samhain. This was an unreal time, when one year turned into another. A twilight zone where spirits of the dead and those not yet born walked freely among the living. It was a time of plenty as the stocks were returned from the hills before the severe winter ahead and a great time for kinship as the hill dwellers came to the gathering. Remnants of the Festival of the Dead are found throughout the Celtic and Hispanic world and last from Halloween to New Year.
  • 4. Samhain When Lun the Sun God was defeated by his darker side he became the Lord of Misrule. Good people needed the comfort of their own kind and protection from the Evil forces of the dark. Much of the sacred symbolism of Samhaimn can be found in the customs of Halloween and Hogmanay. Lord of Misrule or the Ghost of Christmas Past
  • 5. First Footing In the New Year many cultures believed the first foot to cross the threshold brought the house good fortune for the coming year. Suspicious people refused to leave their home until they were first footed. "First footing" is a Celtic custom and tradition demands the first person after the bells to enter the house must be a sonsy (trustworthy); a stranger of dark complexion; and carry a luck talisman. A person with fair complexion brought bad luck.
  • 6. The Talisman Bearing gifts as a good luck charm for the year ahead is an old Viking custom. In Scotland this involved: Black Bun ( a pastry covered rich current cake); and a wassail (hot toddy) to represent food and sustenance for the coming year. Combined with coal to symbolized good luck and prosperity.
  • 7. Arched foot In the Isle of Man (UK) a good first footer was a man of handsome appearance and dark complexion with in-steps high enough to allow a mouse to run through. The significance of the arched foot remains unclear but early Christians believed men were made in the image of God and the Christian Foot had a perfect arch. Flat feet or splayed feet were considered the sign of evil and unlucky omens
  • 8. The Evil Foot Functional feet were important to the early Christians as walking was the only means to spread the Gospel. Subsequently well formed feet became associated with joy and happiness. Literature abounds with reference to this. Prior to modern medicine illness and deformity were regarded as a form of demonic possession.
  • 9. After the Bells The modern interpretation is after hearing the New Year Bells , friends visit each other's homes sharing goodwill and treating them to intoxicating liquor. The Celts held alcohol in very high esteem and was an important part of ritual. In the past first footing had practical purpose which allowed everyone in the village to meet the New Year with good cheer; and allow the superstitious to leave their abode after being first footed.
  • 10. Ner’day Dinner In Scotland families gather on Ner’day (New Year‘s Day) and feast like the traditional Christmas Day. This represents the modern “gathering of the clans, ” and certain foods are thought to bring good fortune for the New Year. These include a thick Scotch broth: Steak Pie; and a Clootie dumpling (a sweet fruit pudding). It is not uncommon in Celtic tradition to have an extra place set at table for unexpected guests.
  • 11. Auld Lang Syne Auld Lang Syne is a traditional ayre given lyrics by Robert Burns but was not traditionally sang at Hogmanay until the 20th century after it was played at a New Year celebration in New York. The sentiment expressed is perfect for the occasion and has been associated ever since.
  • 12. Commonwealth of Australia Copyright Regulations 1969 WARNING This material has been copied and communicated to you by or on behalf of The Footman © pursuant to Part VB of the Copyright Act 1968 (the Act). The material in this communication may be subject to copyright under the Act. Any further copying or communication of this material by you may be the subject of copyright protection under the Act. Do not remove this notice