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How to Celebrate Hogmanay Like a Local

News   •   Dec 20, 2018 12:37 GMT

The Loony Dook, South Queensferry, New Years Day

Hogmanay is, without a doubt, the biggest party in Scotland and the biggest New Year celebration in the UK.

Encompassing more than just 31 December, the celebrations continue up until 2 January – a public holiday. Ranging from fireballs being swung in the air to ceilidhs underneath castles, New Year in Scotland is like no other.

There is more to celebrating Hogmanay than having a few drams. Here are a few ways to celebrate like a local:

  • Take a dip in the sea

The Loony Dook takes place every year on New Year’s Day. This tradition, which began in the mid-1980’s, sees up to a thousand people jump into the freezing Firth of Forth for charity. What began as an attempt to rid the hangover of the night before has now become a tradition among locals and Edinburgh Hogmanay visitors from across the world. Those brave enough to take the plunge or ‘dook’ march along the street behind a pipe band in costumes and fancy dress, bracing themselves for the cold dip ahead!

  • Practice First Footing

In Scotland the first person to enter the house after midnight on New Year’s Eve is said to affect the fortune of the household for the year ahead. They should come bearing gifts, traditionally being a lump of coal, a black bun, shortbread and whisky, and be a dark-haired male. Someone with fair hair is said to bring bad luck, believed to be a throwback to the Viking invasion when a fair-haired male on the doorstep meant anything but good luck.

  • Clean the house

Another old Scottish custom is redding – the act of cleaning the house before midnight on New Year’s Eve, to start the next year afresh. It was of particular importance to clear the ashes of old fires in the days when coal fires were common.

  • Don’t cross your hands for Auld Lang Syne

Written by the famous Scottish poet, Robbie Burns, Auld Lang Syne was put to music and became the New Year song. Although a Scottish poem, Auld Lang Syne can be heard sung across the UK when the clock strikes midnight. In Scotland it is tradition to hold hands with the people next to you, only crossing hands over on the final verse. It is a misconception in many other parts of the world that hands should be crossed over from the beginning of the song.

To find out about the events taking place across the country visit