HPB’s holiday booking service has been rated 4.7 out of 5
based on 14719 customer reviews on Feefo.
Feefo Platinum Award Feefo logo

Hogmanay and the origins of Scotland's New Year's celebrations

Posted by Luci Ackers on 4 December 2017
Related property: Witch'S Pool
Hogmanay and the origins of Scotland's New Year's celebrations

Hogmanay is a big deal in Scotland. Up here the New Year’s Eve celebrations are abundant and always lively: big cities, small towns and little country pubs alike, go all out this evening, welcoming in the year to come.

Throughout the world, Scotland is famous for its exuberant celebrations on the 31st December. More often than not they will start early and span the entire day, reaching right into the evening and, usually, straight through into January 1st as well, with drinking, eating and laughing amongst family and friends. January 2nd is a Scottish Bank Holiday, so it isn’t unusual for the event to last three days! During this time you will find that people often visit family members and exchange gifts.

Celebrate like Vikings

It is believed that the Hogmanay celebrations in Scotland date right back to the Viking period when the Winter Solstice and the passing of the shortest day in late December was a cause for celebration. It incorporated aspects of the Gaelic Samhain celebration and would bring with it wild parties right through the night, and the kinds of extensive festivities that have continued to be a tradition today.

The Vikings wouldn’t have celebrated Christmas, they instead had Yuletide which was a longer period of celebration, for about a month in midwinter. It culminated in feast days and this could be why present giving and food sharing is involved.

There are many theories behind the origins of the name itself. One is that it could be a derivative of an old Gaelic phrase that was carried through to the Viking age. It has been theorised that the pronunciation of certain phrases in New Year’s Eve songs could very easily have become ‘hogmanay’, such as thog mi an èigh (I raised the cry) which would roughly have been pronounced ‘hog mi nea’.



There is a rather nice custom known as the ‘first foot’. Tradition goes that the first person to step through your door brings with them good luck for the rest of the year. It is usual for them to bring a symbolic gift such as whisky or shortbread, which is then shared with the other guests. Nowadays first-footing can continue on right into January.


Torchlight or bonfire ceremonies are also fairly common. Usually the larger towns and cities will have an organised parade through the streets with lit torches and there will probably be a firework display at the end of it. Some say that the symbol of fire on New Year’s Eve is a lighting of the way from one year to the next or a burning away of the old to make way for the new.

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne is a Scottish poem by Robert Burns. It’s become such a recognised tradition of New Year’s Eve to sing the song after the stroke of midnight on the 31st that other countries and cultures have adopted it into their own celebrations too. The song usually starts up after the midnight fireworks, everyone joins hands and sings together to bid the old year goodbye.

Find out how to stay in our fabulous property in Scotland. Simply enter your details at the bottom of the page to receive a free brochure.

Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

How can I find out more?

The Holiday Property Bond could do as much for your quality of life as it has done for many thousands of families who have already invested. That's why we invite you to get in touch with us in any of these 3 ways and please don't forget our unique 'Money back promise' and 'interest free loan' options.

Request our brochure Speak to a representative Explore one of our UK sites

Please request our fully illustrated holiday property brochure

Please read "How HPB works" and then we will be delighted to send you our brochure, including our property portfolio, and your FREE copy of Insight Magazine. See the beautiful holiday homes and magnificent locations where you can spend your holidays as a Bondholder and learn how impressed Bondholders have been by our handling of the problems caused by coronavirus.

Please complete and submit the form or, alternatively, telephone our FREE brochure request line on 0800 230 0391

Request a brochure
Title *  
First Name *  
Surname *  
Email address *
Postcode *  
Telephone number
How did you hear about us?

We will use the details you provide above to send you our detailed HPB brochure and keep you updated about HPB holiday offers. Details of how we use the information you provide are in our privacy policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

* Indicates required fields
HPB’s holiday booking service has been rated 4.7 out of 5 based on 14719 customer reviews on Feefo.

You can speak to one of our representatives

Your local HPB representative will be happy to call or video call you at a convenient time for an informal chat. Simply fill in your details and we'll do the rest.

Most of our representatives are Bondholders themselves and all have visited a number of Bond sites.

The representative will give you all the information you need and then leave you to make up your own mind. He or she will talk to you about your holiday requirements and what level of investment is needed to secure the kind of holidays you want.

Video chat now available with a local representative

This request is for new enquiries only, if you are an existing Bondholder please contact us via myBond.

How should we contact you? *  
Title *  
First Name *  
Surname *  
Email address *
Telephone number *  
Post code *  
Preferred Date/Time
Preferred Date/Time 2
Preferred Date/Time 3
Please contact me to arrange a date

Your local representative will contact you to confirm the date and time.

Date/Time *  
How did you hear about us?
Chosen date (choose above) *
Chosen time (choose above) *

We will use the details you provide above for a representative to contact you. Details of how we use the information you provide are in our privacy policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

* Indicates required fields

Receive a free £20 M&S gift card when you find out more...

Have a Private Tour, Personal Presentation, Video Call or Home Appointment between 1st - 31st May 2024 and we’ll give you a free £20 M&S gift card to thank you.

...And you could double your Holiday Points for your first year!

Become a Bondholder by 31st May and we’ll enter your details into our Prize Draw for your chance to double your Holiday Points for your first year.

These extra points are for one use only. You can redeem them on holiday accommodation where and when you wish, but they will not be renewed once you have used them. Your local representative will give you full details of this offer.

See our stunning holiday properties for yourself

Having a Private Tour at an HPB holiday location is an enjoyable way to see the high standards of furnishings and facilities you could enjoy with HPB. One of our representatives will show you around the site and answer any questions you may have.

Alternatively, you are welcome to book a Personal Presentation at a hotel near you. You can chat to one of our representatives, ask your questions and view the complete portfolio of HPB locations.


This advertisement is issued by HPB Management Limited (HPBM), the main UK agent and the property manager for HPB, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, registered at HPB House, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 8EH. HPB is available exclusively through HPBM. HPB is issued by HPB Assurance Limited (HPBA) registered in the Isle of Man and authorised by the Financial Services Authority there. The Trustee of HPB is Equiom (Isle of Man) Limited, registered at Jubilee Buildings, Victoria Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 2SH. The Securities Adviser is Stanhope Capital LLP of 35 Portman Square, London W1H 6LR. No medical examination is required.

HPBM promotes only HPB and is not independent of HPBA. Holders of policies issued by HPBA will not be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if the company becomes unable to meet its liabilities to them but Isle of Man compensation arrangements apply to new policies.