Yule Tide, Hogmanay and The Night of the Candle

Posted 12 Dec 2014 in Yule Tide, Hogmanay, The Night of the Candle, Scotland, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Scottish Highlands by

As Scotland gears up for what is possibly its busiest time of the year we take a look at the history behind the winter celebrations.

“Yule” comes from the Old Norse "jól”, which was a midwinter pagan celebration of the winter solstice. It does not refer to one day but a period of twelve days. Indeed some of the traditions still carried on today come from the pagan days Yule Logs were burned in the fireplace, the Druid fertility rite of kissing under the mistletoe and decorating the house with holly as evergreen trees were revered.

During the 16th century you would have been incarcerated for keeping “Yule”, with Christmas being a normal working day for most people in Scotland until the 1960’s.

The Scottish did not let the banning of Christmas dampen their festive spirits and they celebrated Hogmanay instead. It is recorded by Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence, 1693 "It is ordinary among some Plebians in the South of Scotland, to go about from door to door upon New Year`s Eve, crying Hagmane."

So what is Hogmanay? Well there is an abundance of theories so it is up to the individual to decide which one they would like to champion.

  • The feast preceding Yule was "Hoggo-nott" in Scandinavia.
  • The Flemish words (many have come into Scots) "hoog min dag" means "great love day".
  • The Anglo-Saxon, Haleg monath, Holy Month, or the Gaelic, oge maidne, new morning.
  • The French used the term "Homme est né" or "Man is born".
  • In France they exchanged gifts on the last day of the year and in Normandy presents given at that time were "hoguignetes".

Should you decide to celebrate in Scotland be sure that the first person into a Scottish homestead on New Year is a dark haired male with the following gifts coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and whiskey. This tradition is meant to bring good luck to the household.

There are parades of people holding a candle as it is widely celebrated as the “Night of the Candle” as well as the night of the bonfire when you would through “The Auld Wife” well a straw effigy that represented the old year.

Here are some of our suggestions to celebrate these traditions:

Christmas in Glasgow as the city has 6 Weeks of Magical Events, Shopping and Festive Fun in the Heart of the City. http://www.glasgowloveschristmas.com/Pages/default.aspx

New Years Eve in Edinburgh is celebrated by around 80,000 revelers from around the world will party at the heart of the city to welcome 2015. There will be live music and entertainment, giant screens, outdoor bars and the world famous Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Midnight Fireworks. http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org

New Year’s Day celebrations in Pitlochry in the Highlands of Perthshire



Do not forget to ask us for accommodation options throughout Scotland.