Monday, December 31, 2007

Hogmanay

I have a Scottish grandmother. She was a Campbell. I use her as an excuse far more often than any of my Irish ancestors. For example, when I'm being unexpectedly frugal, I justify myself in her name. "I have a Scottish grandmother, you know!"

On this day especially, I feel very connected to my Scottish root (I have many Irish roots, but only one Scottish). In Scotland today, they are celebrating Hogmanay in ways unique to their country and even to their county or village.


This young kilted man is swinging a traditional Hogmanay fireball as he parades through the streets of Stonehaven, Scotland. (Is there anything better than a man in a kilt? Seriously, it makes my little heart go pitter pat.)

Christmas was prohibited there for nearly 400 years and didn't come back into fashion until the 1950's. The winter solstice festival is set around the end of the year instead. The Scots are so ardent in their revelling that January 2nd is a holiday to make sure everyone can recover enough to return to work.

I do prefer New Year's over Christmas and these days I'm blaming my Scots blood. Being back in my home town this year, I get to celebrate with old friends for the first time in nearly 20 years. I'll be taking a basket of blessings to salute the new year with a first footing: salt to ensure that life always has flavour, bread that no one should hunger, and wine that all joys will be toasted.

I have a few other more personal items included, too, but just in case anyone is reading that might have their surprise spoiled, Janet!, I'll leave out the details.

So I'll close by saying fare well to a difficult 2007 and well come to 2008! M

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