Hogmanay!!! . . . it's the Scots' New Year's celebration. By now, Edinburgh and Glasgow are rolling and roiling with huge crowds and outdoor street celebrations . . . the fireworks, and, of course, Auld Lang Syne. "Hogmanay" most likely comes from the old French phrase "au gui mener" - "lead to the mistletoe," and I like the sound of that.
I'm not the slightest bit a Scot, much, I know, to my disadvantage . . . I chose Hogmanay as a way to wish you a Happy New Year mostly because of an old Hogmanay custom, "first footing." The promise is that your year will be a prosperous one if, at the strike of midnight, a "tall, dark stranger" appears at your door with a lump of coal for the fire, or a cake, or coin. In exchange, you offer food, wine or a wee dram of whisky, or the traditional Het Pint, which is a combination of ale, nutmeg and whiskey.
Why a "tall, dark stranger"? Well, in the old days of Scotland a tall blond at your door might just be one of those uncouth and unfriendly Vikings, stealing, burning, and pillaging his or her way through your village. . . These days you're more apt to find a group of neighbors on your doorstep for a get together, not a pillaging, unless you spy a defrocked Wall Street derivatives trader. In modern times, a household takes it in turn to provide a meal for the group. In many parts of Scotland gifts or "Hogmananys" are exchanged after the turn of midnight.
In these days of financial meltdowns and difficulties all around, it's a nice thought this Hogmanay tradition of first footing. We'll need each other in the year ahead. Tonight is a good time to start first footing into a new year by touching base with a friend, a relative, a neighbor, in person or by phone. A great start to pulling together in 2009 with a new President, a commitment to hope, and its fulfillment for all!
To my family, thank you for the love and hope you bring to my life each day. To friends, thank you again for all you've done for me and my family in the last difficult year. And to those unknown blog friends, thank you for visiting my little blog. Have a safe and happy Hogmanay!!! Sing along with the Scottish Parliament!