Monday, December 31, 2012

Last Stop before 2013.......

New Year's Eve - this is a celebration where the Scots play it to the hilt - and further! They call it Hogmanay. I'm not a native Scot but I was, as it happens, a native Scott (my Dad's surname).

In my young years, even in Yorkshire which lies in northern England and around 200 miles to the south of Edinburgh, Scotland, certain traditions for New Year were still carried out. My grandmother would insist that the the "first footer", first person to come through the door of the house in the first minutes or hours of 1 January, should be dark-haired and bring in with them some fresh greenery, a piece of bread and a piece of coal. Her son-in-law, my Dad, was her favoured first-footer as he then had jet black hair. I suppose the three items to be brought in represented good health, food and warmth - necessities for the coming year.
The other tradition she honoured, though I'm not sure where it came from, was to eat a special dish on New Year's Eve, she called it "White Rabbit": cooked rabbit meat covered in a savoury white sauce. Mystery to me - I wonder did it originate from that hurrying scurrying white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland? ("Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" Alice follows him down the rabbit hole into we follow time into the rabbit hole of the New Year?) Probably not, but who knows? I never did fancy eating a cute wee rabbit and always declined the dish in favour of a piece of Nanny's delicious chocolate cake! (Right: John Tenniel's illustration of Alice's White Rabbit)

I was going to post a traditional Scottish song here in honour of Hogmanay, but after listening to one or two decided instead on this, from my favourite Scot:


mike said...

"In Yorkshire, people say 'Black rabbits, black rabbits, black rabbits' in the closing seconds of the old year. Then they say, 'White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits,' as their first utterance of the New Year. This is suppose to bring good luck." (from

Strange how tradition becomes so ingrained that no one remembers why it became a custom. Several Latino friends HAVE to eat fresh grapes on Jan 1. Then there's the black eyed peas phenomenon...a southern USA thing. Seems that many cultures requires imbibing great quantities of spirits on Dec 31 (any holiday I suppose!).

I've never been to enthused with Jan 1 New Year, I suppose it's because of the artificial, Gregorian change of years. Personally, I like Chinese New Year for it's more succinct solar-lunar start...similar to Carnival (Mardi Gras)...a mark of spring and something to celebrate. I guess you British double dipped with Imbolc.

Here's to you, Twilight, and all...have a Happy Hogmanay!

Vanilla Rose said...

My family members know about "first footing", although fortunately for us there wasn't a tradition of eating rabbit.

Twilight said...

mike ~~~ Hmmm - I have never heard of that "Black rabbits" custom at New Year, but I do remember the custom of saying "White rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit" on the first day of any month - for good luck. Never even wondered why back then - just did it, if I remembered to, that is.

Yes, it's peculiar how customs do stick through the centuries, but sometimes, inevitably, become mangled and even misunderstood.

I guess the enthusiastic imbibing of alcohol at these times could be a left-over from Saturnalia.

We should take any opportunity to celebrate, I guess, Mike - to balance out the rest of it!

Thanks, and a Happy Hogmanay to you too. No doubt I'll raise a glass, maybe two, later on, and wish for a peaceful 2013 for us all.

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~~ Even for a non-vegan like me it didn't sit well. But I suppose that back in the day, in rural areas, rabbits were plentiful and fairly easy to "bag" to help feed the family.

A dreadful plague of
myxomatosis killed off most rabbits in Yorkshire sometime in the 1950s; after that rabbit meat, as a food, became less available, and less desired too.

The Oligarch Kings said...

Happy New Year when it comes and thanks for all the interesting pieces through the year

Twilight said...

The Oligarch Kings ~~ Thanks, David - and the exact same thanks and good wishes for 2013 to you too!

Chomp said...

Verry Verry fonny thisss scottesh accent!!

Twilight said...

Chomp ~ I know! And Billy Connolly's accent is quite a mild example - you should hear that of some people in Glasgow! A translator is needed for anyone from south of the border. :-)

Vanilla Rose said...

I had to be my own-first footer, although fortunately I was carrying a bar of vegan chocolate in my handbag. A sign of chocolaty goodness to come in the year ahead!

And there was a terrible row from a flat in the next block, so at 5 am or so I had the opportunity to "first foot" a neighbour in the same block with some decorated pegs. They had hearts and ladybirds on and should do for when she hangs her Xmas cards on a line next year.

We drank tea and said bad things about the neighbour and then started to feel sleepy again.

Twilight said...

Vanilla Rose ~~ Well done! We didn't do a first-foot. Watched TV: 2 progs. about the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, then a couple of Twilight Zone episodes from the day-long marathon running on some channel or other, then the count down to midnight & New Year for the Central Time zone from Dallas, Texas.

Done and dusted. 2013 here we come! Have a good one Vanilla!

R J Adams said...

Nonsense, indeed. As youngsters we were forced to suffer Andy Stewart and Co on New Year's Eve. It was about as dreadful as 'Scottish' music gets. Billy's right, the true folk music of Scotland is a real joy, but we never got to hear it on English TV. A belated Happy New Year to you and AnyJazz.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~ Always had a synthetic feel to it didn't it? Even from the almost sainted Sir Harry Lauder - though maybe I'd become so soured I couldn't distinguish good frae bad!

All the best for 2013 to you and Mrs. RJ too. :-)