Before the calendar change in the year
was celebrated. It is known as
Old Yule Night.
the old style calendar was dropped in favour of the Continental calendar by the
then British Government. People were forced to lose
in September of that year to bring Britain into line with Europe. This then made
New Years Day the 1st of January. People of Britain were most annoyed at losing
11 days and many still followed the old calendar and continued to celebrate New
Year on the 11th of January.
The North East of Scotland has always been a fishing region and fishermen and
fisher folk are a superstitious lot and this ceremony is only 1 of their fishing
superstitions. They did the burning of the
ceremony to ensure a successful fishing for the future year.
would traditionally have been a herring barrel or later this was an iron hooped
whisky barrel daubed with creosote. This is filled with wood shavings and tar
and then nailed to a carrying post. The same nail was used each year.
During the day of Hogmanay the household would be busy cleaning so that the New
Year could be welcomed into a tidy and neat house. It is considered ill luck to
welcome in the New Year in a dirty uncleaned house. Fireplaces would be swept
out and polished and some people would read the ashes of the very last fire of
the year, to see what the New Year would hold. The act of cleaning the entire
house was called the redding, i.e. getting ready for the New Year.
Pieces from a Rowan tree would be placed above a door to bring luck. In the
house would be placed a piece of mistletoe, not for kissing under like at
Christmas, but to prevent illness to the householders. Pieces of holly would be
placed to keep out mischievous fairies and pieces of hazel and yew which were
thought to have magical powers and would protect the house and the people who
lived in it. Juniper would be burnt throughout the house, then all the doors of
the home would be opened to bring in fresh air. The house was then considered
ready to bring in the New Year.
Debts would be paid by New Year's Eve because it was considered bad luck to see
in a new year with a debt.
Any visitors who arrive before the chimes of midnight on New Year's Eve would
have to be brought in or kept out to prevent bad luck. At midnight the man
of the house would open the back door to let the old year out and then open the
front door of the house to let in the new year. The household would also make as
much noise as possible to scare off evil spirits. In harbours throughout
Aberdeenshire, at Aberdeen Harbour and throughout the North East Sea fishermen
and sailors will sound their horns and these sounds carry for miles.
Within minutes of the old year passing the house would erupt and the carpets
would be rolled up and dancing and falling about drunk would commence. The
magic pristine state ideal was over when everything was spleet new for the
hour of Midnight. The glass breakages, vomit and spilt drinks would
relegate the former palace to a pig stye; leaving one wondering why they
bothered with the elaborate preparation and meticulous cleaning for so short an
exposure of being seen to be very houseproud. Only to do it all over again
when sober in the cold light of New Years Day.
New Year Bells
The 1st stroke of the chimes at New Year is known as The Bells. People would
sing Auld Lang Syne together whilst linking arms.
After the bells have rung and you have been first-footed people could go
visiting friends and family, if no one knocked you had to wait patiently for a
dark complexion visitor to place the first foot in your door. First-Footing
would involve carrying a bottle of spirit such as whisky to offer people a new
year dram or wee first footing presents for non drinkers or affa cannie folk wi
nae drink. In olden days when people could only afford one bottle of spirit’s a
year this bottle would take pride of place on the mantelpiece or by the
fireplace and only opened at the stroke of midnight.
Bell's A'fore ye go - mad!
As people wish each other a Happy New Year there are some hogmanay toasts that
can be said. A traditional Scottish New Year toast is:
Lang may yer lum reek! -
(wi someone else's coal)
Which means long may your chimney smoke and originated when people had
coal fires and if the chimney was smoking it meant that you could afford coal
and keep warm.
A guid New Year to ane an' a' and mony may ye see"
Which translates to English from Scots as A good New Year to one and all,
and many may you see.
The Toast of Bon Accord:
Happy to meet,
sorry to part.
Happy to meet again!
Hogmanay Fireball Ceremony Walkers & Swingers New Year Fire
Each Hogmanay between 45 - 60 people swing fireballs and walk through the High
Street of Stonehaven
towards the Harbour at the stroke of midnight. Spectators
wore old clothes, as the fireballs get quite close during the parade.
After the procession, at about 12:30am the fireballs are thrown into the
harbour, then the firework display at the Bervie Braes commences. Back
at the market square, you can watch the fire jugglers.
Each Stonehaven fireball weighs about 16 pounds and is made of items such as
wood, coal, old clothing, newspapers/cardboard and dried pine cones all packed
into a wire frame then sprinkled with a wee bit of paraffin. The
Stonehaven fireball walkers can be traced back to local fishermen performing the
ceremony in the 19th Century, though fireball ceremonies in general can be
traced back to times before Christianity. The 1st Stonehaven fireball ceremony
took place in
It is thought that the fire is symbolic to ward of evil spirits and to
act as a cleanser. The movement of
the fireball may have symbolised the path of the sun.