Jewel of the Highlands
Plockton is a thriving community all year round, but comes alive at Hogmanay (new year).
‘The Bells’ sound at midnight and there follows a spectacular firework display, which can be seen from any part of the village. People are often out in the street watching and wishing their friends, neighbours and visitors a happy new year!
Immediately after midnight it’s also traditional for folk 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 old lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.”
Another widespread custom is the practice of ‘first-footing’ which starts after midnight. This involves the being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbor and often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as coal, shortbread, whisky and black bun. These are intended to bring luck to the householder. Food and drink are then given to the guests. This may go on through the early hours of the morning and well into the next day. Traditionally, tall dark men are preferred as the first foot!
For visitors to Scotland it is worth remembering that January 2nd is also a national holiday in Scotland, this extra day being barely enough time to recover from a week of intense revelry and merry-making. All of which helps to form part of Scotland's cultural legacy of ancient customs and traditions that surround the pagan festival of Hogmanay.