Sun Goddess, Hogmanay Street Festival, Edinburgh 2005
Hogmanay - the Scottish celebration of New Year's - incorporates the older, Gaelic traditions of Samhain, as well as the Norse celebrations of Yule. Bonfires, purification (saining), and taking of omens for the new year (First Footing) are common customs.
In the darkest time of the year, we welcome the returning light with fires in the fields and the streets, praises to the returning sun, and welcoming the light into our homes and our hearts. Like at Brú na Bóinne in Ireland, the ancestors further up the coast in Scotland also aligned the megalithic cairns at Maeshowe with the midwinter sun, which illuminates the inner chambers at only this time of year. After the longest night, the light returns, and the ancestors are awakened as the sun enters the earth. Fire without, and fire within. Fàilte ort féin, a ghrian nan tràth, 'S tu siubhail ard nan speur...
Maeshowe, Orkney, Scotland. Photo from Orkneyjar
Hogmanay.net is full of links to activities, including the burning of the Clavie and the ever-popular Fireballs Ceremony, which for those who can't make it will once again be streamed live over the net from the festivities in Stonehaven.
Fireballs Ceremony, Stonehaven High Street, 2003. Photo by Mr. Purple
Via Rudy at ACGA, and the crew at Clì Gàidhlig: The Hogmanay programme anns a' Ghàidhlig will be available worldwide for the first 24 hours of January 1st. The programme can be accessed on BBC Alba's website.
Bliadhna Mhath Ùr agus Slàinte Mhath a h-uile duine!