New Year Celebrations

In the UK, on 31st December, people usually hold New Year parties and when Big Ben strikes midnight, they toast with a glass of champagne to wish each other good luck for the coming year. They will then link arms to sing an old Scottish song called Auld Lang Syne, meaning «times gone by» which recalls old  friends.

The Scottish celebration of Hogmanay is the best known New Year celebration and often lasts until 2nd January, which is a holiday in Scotland. Hogmanay is thought to originate from a Viking festival, which celebrated the passing of the winter solstice. Dancing to the music of bagpipes over crossed swords, firework displays and drinking whisky form part of this celebration.

Another New Year tradition is ‘first-footing’ where the first visitor to pass the threshold and enter the house, once the clock has struck twelve, will carry coal and make a fire to welcome the New Year. To bring good luck, the visitor should be a tall, dark male as the Vikings believed that blond strangers were a bad omen.

And in Wales, people give each other Calennig, a decoration made of an apple placed on three twigs. Dried fruit, cloves and a piece of evergreen are stuck in the apple. The Calennig is placed on a window sill to bring good luck to the house. Traditionally children would go from house to house, singing and carrying calennig as a symbol of good wishes for the coming year and would receive gifts of food or money.