Juhl: Take your first step forward with a Hogmanay ceilidh

Scottish tradition suggests that the first person inside your home in the new year is the bearer of good fortune and good health.

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Clean your house and pay off your debts to start the new year again. That’s the boring part of Hogmanay.


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The rest are Vikings, fire and ice water. On top of this: “The traditional New Years ceremony involved people dressing in cattle skins and running through town while being hit by sticks,” according to Historic UK.

The Scottish tradition of Hogmanay, which welcomes the new year, dates back to the 8th or 9th centuries and is linked to the winter solstice. Today there are fewer cattle hides and sticks. Some places still enjoy a dip in icy lakes and oceans on New Years morning.

“The old tradition is that people visited friends and family, bringing a gift to welcome the new year,” said Heather Theoret of the Ottawa Scottish Society. The tradition of the first foot suggests that the first person inside your home in the new year is the bearer of good fortune and good health, and should carry things like “a lump of coal to keep the fire burning in the home, something sweet like shortbread cookies to nourish your body. And then, of course, share a shot of whiskey with your neighbors. “


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The society has welcomed more than 8,000 people in recent years for Hogmanay. The 2021 edition of Hogman-eh! it will be completely virtual. It is coordinated by Rachel Worton with an army of “rock star” volunteers and the support and grants of Ontario, Scotland and many local sponsors.

Reconnect & Rejoice kicks off at 5:50 pm on Friday, December 31st and will feature performances by The Proclaimers, Glass Tiger’s Alan Frew, Red Hot Chilli Pipers and others. It will culminate at 7pm, midnight in Scotland, with a broadcast of the fireworks in Edinburgh and the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Fire is a big part of Hogmanay, coming just after the darkest part of the year. There are many fire festivals in Scotland, including a torchlight procession in Edinburgh.


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“This will be an online ceilidh with messages about the shared heritage between Canada and Scotland and good wishes for the coming year.”

While Hogman-eh! It will be broadcast from the nation’s capital, says Jane Torrance of the society, Ottawa and Montreal walk with arms intertwined.

“When the Scots arrived in Canada, many of them went up the St. Lawrence River to Montreal and dispersed from there. The same Scottish names that are in Montreal are in Ottawa and there isn’t much space in our heritage. “

She comments on her close relationship with the Society of Saint Andrew in Montreal: “We support them and they support us and that’s the Scottish way, that we encourage each other.”


Hogman-huh! Reconnecting and rejoicing can be seen at the Ottawa Scottish Society’s Facebook page or Youtube channel. More information about the event and the society at ottscot.ca. The Society of Saint Andrew of Montreal is in standrews.qc.ca.

Can’t get enough Hogmanay? Learn more about it at edinburghshogmanay.com.

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