Saturday, January 2, 2010

Hogmanay

I hope everyone enjoyed New Year's Day.  In a previous incarnation I owned a small Scottish import gift shop for over a decade.  In Scotland, the New Year celebration, or Hogmanay, is a bigger deal than Christmas.

In preparation for the big event, people spend several days beforehand redding the household, which involves cleaning the place from top to bottom. When the bells ring  bells ring in the year at midnight, one greets the year on his feet, for good health, with a coin in his pocket, for wealth, and a glass of whiskey in his hand, for good times.  After the bells have rung, the first person to cross your threshold will set your luck for the year.  This is called first footing, and for good luck, you want to make sure that the first foot across your threshold belongs to a black-haired man, and not a blond, or ,heaven forfend, a red haired woman!  The first footer will bring a present of coal for the hearth, a black bun* or shortbread, and of course a drink of whiskey, and the householder will always have food for her guests. 

In the morning comes the saining, or blessing of the house. A burning juniper branch is carried around  so that its smoke can purify the house and all its inhabitants.  Boughs of rowan are placed over the lintel for luck, and a sprig of holly to keep out the faeries. 

A lot of drink is involved,  and a lot of good cheer, and of course a toast to auld lang syne.

So here’s a hand my trusty fiere

And gie’s a hand o thine

And we’ll take a right guid willie waught*,

for auld lang syne.

*****

A black bun is a pastry filled with raisins and currants, almonds and citrus peel, flour sugar allspice, ginger cinnamon, black pepper, baking powder, egg, brandy or whiskey, and milk.  It looks like a tall pie, and is aged for several weeks, like a fruitcake

A willie waught is a good slug  of spirits, always a good way to start the new year

*****

A thousand welcomes to my friend Vicki Delany, our newest Fatal Foodie, whose first post is tomorrow.

2 comments:

Marian Allen said...

So that's where redding comes from! My great-grandmother used to tell me to red up the dishes when she wanted me to wash them, and nobody knew why, not even she!

Donis Casey said...

There's a Scotsman lurking somewhere in your family tree, Marian.