Hogmanay Rising

The fire festival is close at hand. Someday I hope to go to Scotland for it, but thus far it has not worked out.
In Shetland, where the Viking influence remains strongest, New Year is still called Yules, deriving from the Scandinavian word for the midwinter festival of Yule.

It may surprise many people to note that Christmas was not celebrated as a festival and virtually banned in Scotland for around 400 years, from the end of the 17th century to the 1950s. The reason for this dates back to the years of Protestant Reformation, when the straight-laced Kirk proclaimed Christmas as a Popish or Catholic feast, and as such needed banning.

And so it was, right up until the 1950s that many Scots worked over Christmas and celebrated their winter solstice holiday at New Year when family and friends would gather for a party and to exchange presents which came to be known as hogmanays.

There are several traditions and superstitions that should be taken care of before midnight on the 31st December: these include cleaning the house and taking out the ashes from the fire, there is also the requirement to clear all your debts before “the bells” sound midnight, the underlying message being to clear out the remains of the old year, have a clean break and welcome in a young, New Year on a happy note.
I wonder if the lack of Christmas is less compatible with America, or the idea of annually clearing all one's debts. The latter, I suppose.


Eric Blair said...

I suppose it depends on where you are. (In life).

Grim said...

Maybe it does. Between the mortgage and the student loans, though, it seems like long-term debt makes up a lot of American life these days.

Ymarsakar said...

The new year starts in spring, not the dead of winter. Humans messed up the calendars.

They may have figured out back then that the Christ guy wasn't born on Dec 25, December, in winter, or in 1 BC at all. The entire AD calendar is off by at least 4 years.