December – 2021 (Vol. 45, Number 06)
The Banner Says…
Ringing in ‘The Bells’ with Scottish Tradition
As we all look to put this year behind us and move on to what is hoped to be a better year ahead, Scots across the world will no doubt still find ways to celebrate this month’s Hogmanay celebrations. Growing up we always raised a glass to Scotland when the clock struck midnight in the UK, as we would be getting ready ourselves to see in ‘The Bells’. That tradition has stayed with me to this day and I always find myself, no matter where I am, thinking of Scotland when the clock there strikes midnight.
This year Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is back to celebrate the end of what has been a challenging year for many, with three days of revelry, albeit scaled down, including the new Party at the Bells on Princes Street, the popular Torchlight Procession and the return of the iconic Edinburgh Castle fireworks display.
Regardless of where you are on Hogmanay you can of course include some Scottish customs in your celebrations. Maybe not the most popular one to do, but one I always do, is redding the house for the New Year. Having a spring clean during the day of December 31st and starting the year off in a fresh and clean house, it is also meant to bring you luck and who can ever have enough of that?
Another custom, which again may be hard especially after Christmas, is paying off any debts before a new year begins. Easier said than done I know but it was considered bad luck to see in a new year with a debt.
First Footing is also one of Scotland’s most famous Hogmanay traditions. This obviously dates back as it is just slightly not politically correct in today’s world but the first foot that should enter your home in a New Year should be a dark-haired male (this goes back in history when fair haired men were linked to invading Vikings and no one wanted them coming through the door) to bring your household good fortune for the year ahead. Sadly, blond and red head men and no women of any description were welcome as the first guest of the year as they may cause a household to have bad luck for an entire year.
In this issue
Since 2009 I have had a dream to highlight the incredible Susan Boyle within our pages. We are so honoured to have the Scottish singing sensation in this month’s edition. I remember the week the video of Susan went viral, we happened to be going to press and managed to include Susan in that edition just as her name was beginning to circulate across the globe. I have watched Susan’s famous audition video countless times, especially when I am having a tough day, when she went out on stage a blew everyone’s mind as she sang, I Dreamed A Dream from the global theatre hit Les Misérable. It never fails to put a smile on my face and brings my mood back up. I am so grateful to Scottish journalist Neil Drysdale for preparing this story exclusively for the Scottish Banner and to Susan for having that dream and sharing it with the world.
Scotland is known for its incredible Hogmanay celebrations with revellers drawn to firework displays and fire ceremonies. However, one of Scotland’s unique festive celebrations which takes place during both Christmas and New Year is The Kirkwall Ba’ in Orkney. The winding streets of Kirkwall are the stage for a huge game of street football, which can last for several hours, or even days! The origins of this Orcadian celebration dates back to Norse times and surely must be one of Scotland’s most unique holiday traditions.
In the Scottish Borders you will find the incredibly grand Marchmont House, whose interior is regarded as one of Scotland’s finest. Marchmont was built in 1750 and still today has some of its original interiors. Outside this palatial mansion however the grounds have quite literally gone to the birds, and other natural life, as gamekeeper, naturalist and gardener Shaun Adams has lovingly worked on making the outside just as unique as Marchmont’s interior. The 6,500-acre estate is now home to variety of birds, wildlife, plants and bees and what could be more grand than that?
Auld Lang Syne
Many people around the world may have no idea that a Scottish folk song penned by Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns is by sung millions of people each year as the clock strikes twelve at New Year. Written in the 1700s Auld Lang Syne literally translates to ‘old long since’, or a long time ago, and is about remembering the good old days. I am always amazed that a poem penned in 1788, in Scots, still today plays a part in New Year traditions across the globe. The song was eventually transported across the world by Scots heading to new lands and now is often the first song many people still hear when they bring in a new year.
As we go to press with this issue pandemic life is still offering up challenges to many people across the world. This year has seen our world go through a raft of lockdowns, cancelled events, missed connections with friends and family and a great deal of added stress and isolation for many. Let us hope with 2022 on our doorstep we can all look forward to more confidence and clarity in life with the return of events, travel and a new normal of life, but hopefully with a bit of Auld Lang Syne for us all.
The Scottish Banner wishes you and your family a safe, healthy and happy festive season ahead.
Do you have a favourite Scottish holiday tradition? Share your story with us! Do you have you any comments from the content in this month’s edition? Share your story with us by email, post, social media or at: www.scottishbanner.com/contact-us
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