Scottish Traditions held in January

December 13, 2009

Hogmanay on 31 December is the celebration of bringing in the New Year

1st January – First footing after the bells have rung in the New Year is still common – The “first foot” across the threshold of a home after midnight is considered to have taken the home’s first footing bring luck and happiness to the household members. The first footer should be male, dark, and handsome and should carry symbolic coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and, of course, whisky to insure good health, wealth, and a good year.

New Year Ba’ Game in Kirkwall, Orkney, held in the streets of the town between the Uppies and the Doonies, or more correctly, “Up-the-Gates” and “Doon-the-Gates” from Old Norse “gata” (path or road). The game can last most of January 1st,

Handsel Monday is a Scottish holiday celebrated on the first Monday of the New Year
Traditionally this was the day on which handsel (gifts) were given to staff from their employers. In some areas, this was done on January 12th.

Burning of the Clavie – 11th January
In Burghead, Morayshire, a tar barrel filled with tar-soaked wood shavings is carried around the harbour and to the Doorie Hill where the Celtic Druids used to light their fires.

Cake and Ale Day, January 14th began in Suffolk England in 1481 when a man died, leaving all of his money to the church to be used for Masses for himself and to feed the poorhouse cakes and ale. A celebration mass was held the following year and has since become one of England’s more peculiar festivals.

Up-Helly-aa – Last Tuesday of January
Held in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, a full sized Viking Galley, complete with shields and oars are pulled to the beach by people dressed as Viking warrior torch-bearers. Guizer Jarl calls for three cheers for the builders of the longship and after a bugle call, the galley is set alight by 800 blazing torches.

Burns Night – 25 January
The anniversary of the birth in 1759 of poet Robert Burns is celebrated around the world with a “Burns Dinner”. For the celebration the haggis is carried on a trencher board by tartan clad dressed people following a piper and followed by one carrying the important bottle to toast the piper with. . A “Burns “Immortal Memory” speech in praise of the Bard, will be given and a toast drank in memory of the Bard. This will be followed by a full course dinner …the toast to the queen, to the homeland, to the lassies, to the ladies, the response to the lassies and to the ladies, etc. etc. It’s a great night celebrated with dancing and singing Rabbie Burns’s songs. .

January 25th Dydd Santes Swynwen is a Welsh holiday celebrating love and affection, much like the North American Saint Valentine’s Day


Want to contribute? Leave a comment!