Category: Culture
Hogmanay in United Kingdom in 2022
Image: Scotch Whiskey and Thistle. by StockCube , from Deposit Photos. Royalty Free

About Hogmanay

How long until Hogmanay?
Hogmanay .
Dates of Hogmanay
2023 United Kingdom Sunday, December 31stHogmanay
2022 United Kingdom Saturday, December 31stHogmanay
2021 United Kingdom Friday, December 31stHogmanay
2020 United Kingdom Thursday, December 31stHogmanay
2019 United Kingdom Tuesday, December 31stHogmanay
Summary
This Scottish end to the year may be derived from Norse and Gaelic observances.

Hogmanay is what Scots call New Year's Eve - December 31st - the big night that marks the arrival of the new year. Its origins reach back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Vikings with wild parties in late December.

The origin of the word is unclear, but it may come from the French 'hoginane’ or Scandinavian 'hoggo-nott', meaning yule.

Hogmanay traditions include fireworks and torch-lit processions in the cities and bonfires in the rural areas. "First footing" is still observed: it is believed to be good luck for the first foot over the threshold to be that of a dark-haired stranger bearing a piece of coal, shortbread or whiskey. After the midnight chimes, everyone sings "Auld Lang Syne."

The importance of Hogmanay is highlighted by the fact that Scots are given two days holiday to recover. But lively celebrations are not a recent phenomenon. In fact, they can be attributed to a pagan past and the prohibition of Christmas.

A number of Hogmanay fire celebrations are held across the country, including in the seaside town of Stonehaven which welcomes in the New Year with the spectacular fireballs ceremony. In Edinburgh the new year is celebrated with three days of events, a torchlight procession, the famous Hogmanay street party and on New Year’s Day ‘The Loony Dook.’

Pagan Scots marked the year-end at Samhain (late October - now Halloween) when the harvest was in and the sun was weakening.

Later Scots celebrated the midwinter yule festival and this continued after Catholicism became the nation’s religion. Yule was a time of gluttony and revelry, with bonfires, guising, house-visiting, and hospitality lasting for an extended period known as 'the daft days’.

With the Protestant reformation in 1560, reformers began banning, discouraging or suppressing mass, feast days, and other traditions associated with the Catholic Church, including Christ’s Mass - Christmas.

By 1640, an Act of Parliament officially abolished the ‘yule vacance’, the Christmas break. This likely had the result of focusing yule festivities and customs on New Year.

The Act was partly repealed in the late 17th Century but did little to overturn the diminished role of Christmas in Scotland. Reformers worshipped only at times specifically commanded in the Bible and there was no scriptural evidence for December 25th as Christ’s birth date.

So for Scots, New Year remained the main opportunity for merriment during dark winter months. This was the case until relatively recently because it wasn’t until 1958 that Christmas became a public holiday in Scotland, in common with the rest of the UK.

First Footing

One common Hogmanay tradition is “First Footing.”  It is said that the first person who comes across the threshold after the New Year brings a piece of coal for the fire as good luck.  It’s also believed that a dark-haired person coming across your door will bring good luck, while someone fairer-haired will bring bad.  As part of the custom, some brunette friends may be asked to leave just before midnight so that they can come back in and bring good luck with them.

Find out more

Related Observances

Read more about New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve

The last day of the year in the Gregorian calendar is usually celebrated with parties as midnight approaches

Read More
Read more about Burns Night

Burns Night

Burns Night celebrates the life and work of Robert Burns, considered to be the national poet of Scotland

Read More

Similar Observances

Read more about Burns Night

Burns Night

Burns Night celebrates the life and work of Robert Burns, considered to be the national poet of Scotland

Read More
Read more about Pancake Tuesday

Pancake Tuesday 🥞

In Ireland and UK it is a popular custom to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.

Read More
Read more about Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday

Celebrated on the fourth Sunday during Lent, this modern celebration of Mothers has a older and different origin story

Read More
Read more about Towel Day

Towel Day

Towel Day is an annual tribute on the 25th of May to the late author Douglas Adams. On that day fans carry a towel in his honour.

Read More
Explore more Culture holidays

Other Observances on December 31st 2022

Read more about St. Sylvester's Day

St. Sylvester's Day

Find out the dates, history and traditions of St. Sylvester's Day.

Read More
Read more about New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve

The last day of the year in the Gregorian calendar is usually celebrated with parties as midnight approaches

Read More
Read more about Omisoka

Omisoka

Find out the dates, history and traditions of Omisoka.

Read More
Read more about Make Up Your Mind Day

Make Up Your Mind Day

Find out the dates, history and traditions of Make Up Your Mind Day

Read More
All events on December 31st 2022