December 31: Hogmanay
In Scotland, December 31 is known as Hogmanay, the word children use to ask for their traditional present of an oatmeal cake (which is why this is also called Cake Day). It’s believed that Hogmanay originated with the invading Vikings who celebrated the passing of the winter solstice with much revelry.
Immediately after midnight it is traditional to sing Robert Burns’ “Auld Lang Syne”—
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”
Along with fireworks and fireworks, “First footing” (or the “first foot” in the house after midnight) is still common across Scotland. The first person to cross the threshold into one’s home, called the first footer, is an indication of the year to come. Although the tradition varies, if the first footer is tall and dark, the year will be a good one.
Of course, the entire spirit of a Hogmanay party is to welcome both friends and strangers with warm hospitality and of course lots of kissing all-around!