The tradition usually starts out by watching ‘hoochter choochter’ music on the television (telly in Scotland) and trying not to fall asleep. For many years a comedy show called ‘Scotch and Wry’ was shown, even for several years after the death of the main character. Now we have pictures of the tourists in the streets of Edinburgh and Scotland. For many years, I can remember watching Dick Clark from “American Bandstand.” Now there are all kinds of celebrity hosts for shows on New Year’s Eve, that all focus on the dropping of the “Ball’ in New York City. It is significant, though, that Scottish and American traditions are looking more alike through the years.
Just before midnight, go to your neighbour’s across the road, where they will be waiting with bowls of mixed nuts and a glass of wine. Some (generally older) people may at this point drink whiskey. Remember to take a lump of stone symbolising a piece of coal for good luck. This is called “First Footing”. At the stroke of midnight, people watch the ringing of the “bells.” At “the bells,” everyone stands up and stands in a circle with their hands crossed, holding hands with the people on either side of them, and sings ‘Auld Lang Syne’ while feeling slightly embarrassed. People stay for a bit longer for show, then head home to bed.
The youth tend to be a bit more roudy, just like our youth. They tend to go round to more than one person’s house and take them all a lump of stone, and will get drunk. If there are a lot of people about in the streets, everyone will wish each other a happy new year and kiss each other on the (usually) cheek. This is what used to happen in Edinburgh but can no longer because the whole town is full of tourists who don’t know what to do and the people who live in Edinburgh aren’t allowed across town without a ticket. We’ll see if this continues. January the 2nd is also a Scottish holiday.
New Year’s Day is very similar in both cultures. So, enjoy your upcoming holiday.
Ray Province, the Celtic Ozarkian