Hogmanay in Scotland; The roots of Hogmanay reach back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Norse, as well as incorporating customs from the Gaelic New Year’s celebration of Samhain. In Europe, winter solstice evolved into the ancient celebration of Saturnalia, a great Roman winter festival, where people celebrated completely free of restraint and inhibition. The Vikings celebrated Yule, which later contributed to the Twelve Days of Christmas, or the “Daft Days” (really) as they were sometimes called in Scotland. The winter festival went underground with the Protestant Reformation and ensuing years, but re-emerged near the end of the 17th century.

In addition to enormous torchlit processions for Hogmanay, Scots kick off the New Year with the tradition of first-footing. Traditionally, the luckiest “first foot” to cross the door after the stroke of midnight should be a dark-haired male (perhaps in response to those blond Viking invaders). Today, friends or family who cross the door can bring luck.