Friday 31 December 2010

12 days of Mithra-mas day 6

New Year’s Eve, Hogmanay

The term hogmanay is from Scotland, and has to do with the the new year. It is believed to derive from the word "hoguinane' " from Northern France which meant "lead to the mistletoe".  

The most known custom of hogmanay is called “first-footing” where a dark haired neighbor or friend entered your home after midnight to welcome in the new year. They generally brought a few gifts as well including: salt, coal, shortbread, whisky, and black bun(very heavy fruit cake) all intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. The food and drinks were given to the guests, this may go on thought the early hours of the morning and well into the next day, with plenty of people stopping by.  The first footing helped to set the luck for the rest of the year.

The custom is pretty specific on who had to set foot through the door first. A tall dark haired man brought luck, a red haired person brought bad luck. The belief for the reason for tall dark men; was during the times when hogmanay came to be Scotland was under siege and the dislike for the red haired warriors coming to their homes, especially meant bad luck, and this belief has been carried on, although most probably don't know where the tradition comes from. 

For many parts of Scotland the celebration is a fire festival; much like the local customs of fireball swinging in north-east Scotland. There is also of course the song Auld Lang Syne which was re-interpreted by Rober Burns & later set to music.

This was the night that everything that needed to be cleaned was cleaned, tidied & washed up.In the book "The Silver Bough" by F. Marian McNiell, describes the customs of clearing as many of the person's debts, & clearing up as many of their issues as possible. 

"the house received a mini-spring cleaning,
 slops & ashes, which are usually removed
 in the morning are carried out.
Debts must be paid, borrowed articles returned, 
stockings darned, tears mended..."

After sunset on hogmanay, people went out looking for juniper branches, and buckets of fresh water from a stream or a well.  the branches were placed near the fire to dry out, the head of the household would wake up at first light, drink some of the water, and then went around and sprinkled everyone with a few drops. 
After that was done, the windows & doors were closed, and the juniper branch was set on fire & carried throughout the house until everything was well fumigated. this was done as a way to make sure the hogmanay gifts were well celebrated.  

How to Celebrate

  • light juniper incense and carry through the house
  • with a few minutes to midnight, turn off all the lights in the home, except for one candle, give this to a dark haired friend who then goes out the back door and makes his way to the front (keeping the candle lit the whole time).
  • At midnight have him knock, allow him to enter by greeting him with
Welcome to the light of the New Year
& Welcome he/she who brings it here"
  • Go around the house with the candle & relight all the lights you put out. If can be candles so much the better.  In parts of Scandinavia the god Yule is welcomed in much the same way, with a chair & table set up just inside the door of the house with gifts & food for Yule, the godlike representation of the Solstice. 
You can serve eggnog to your guests, here is a recipe from food network that i love to use:
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 large strip orange zest
  • 2 large strips lemon zest
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and vanilla seeds scraped loose
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup white rum
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons bourbon, optional
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Finely grated orange and/or lemon zest
  • Put 2 cups of the milk, both citrus zests, and the vanilla bean and tar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and the 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl until lightened in color.
  • Gradually pour the hot milk into the eggs while whisking constantly. Return the egg mixture to the pan and set over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon in a figure 8 motion until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and immediately stir in the remaining cup milk to stop the cooking. Transfer custard to a large bowl; cool to room temperature. (To speed this up, set bowl in another bowl of ice.)
  • Put about 1 inch of water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Put the egg whites and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a heatproof bowl large enough to rest in the saucepan without touching the water. 
  • Set the bowl over the simmering water and beat until the sugar dissolves and the egg whites feel warm to the touch, about 1 minute. 
  •  Remove from the heat and beat the whites with an electric mixer until they hold a soft peak, about 3 minutes. 
  • Fold the egg whites into custard mixture. Add the rum and bourbon, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Transfer eggnog to a punch bowl or pitcher. Pour into small cups and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and citrus zest. 
Drink. & enjoy. 
Bright blessings & Happy Hogmanay


  1. ~always insightful are your posts...thank you so for has been wonderful getting to know you and i very much look forward to the road ahead...may this new year be filled with only an abundance of blessings to come forth in your day to day...cheers to the new year~

  2. @faerwillow, thank you, I have enjoyed getting to know you too. I'm excited to see what the new year brings, and may you too be blessed with abundance and joy.


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