Happy Hogmanay

bottle coalTomorrow will be New Year’s Eve.  There are certain experiences that should not be missed. These aren’t the climbing Everest type, just human places to be a certain times. A couple of them involve the New Year. If at all possible, find a group of real Scots, at least one of whom should be a dark haired man as you will need him after 12:01 a.m. for the first few minutes of 2017.   I can think of a few that I wouldn’t slam the door if they came calling in the wee hours, particularly if they were carrying really good scotch, but feel free to conjure up your own.

Scots are modern people.  They wear all modern clothes and while a few sport a daily work kilt, the full regalia is saved for special occasions.  They rarely play bagpipes daily and know how to use ATMs.  On New Year’s Eve they dig back into their past of the last 500 years and invest something special into the event. In modern day Scotland the street parties in Edinburgh or Glasgow are a sight to behold. In the small towns, the bonfires burn to bring back the sun.

In all of the places wherever they gather around the world, at midnight you cross your hands across your body and form a circle, and you sing only one song (all of it).   Each person in the circle represents all who can’t be there except in memory and the circle circles the world with each ticking of the clock and time zone.  Even though it is Burn’s version that is sung, he said that he was only recording a folk song that stretched way back in time. It is a song that looks backward to childhood and forward to old age. It is a wistful melody for things lost and things gained. A loose translation is provided after each

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?

Translation:  Should past acquaintances and times now gone be forgotten and never thought of again?

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I’ll be mine,
And we’ll tak a cup o kindness yet,
For auld lang syne!

Translation:  You will have a drink and I will have one.  Together we will toast those times remembered.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine,
But we’ve wander’d monie a weary fit,
Sin auld lang syne.

Translation:  In the past we ran around the hills and picked the daisies but since then we have traveled far apart

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn
Frae morning sun till dine,
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
Sin auld lang syne.

Translation:  In the past we went boating from dawn until evening but wide oceans separate us now.

And there’s a hand my trusty fiere,
And gie’s a hand o thine,
And we’ll tak a right guid-willie waught,
For auld lang syne.

Translation:  So here’s my hand my trusted friend and give me your hand.  We will take a drink together to salute those still remembered times.

Once the New Year turns, the dark man bearing gifts of survival is welcomed at the door. It is considered fortunate if your first visitor on the 1st January is a tall dark stranger, armed with a lump of coal and a bottle of whisky. To this can be added the options of salt, shortbread and/or a black bun. That he should be dark is said to hark back to when a blond arrival might be a Viking, not always with the best of intentions towards home and family.

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About Jamie

Retired Writer Editor - Loves Books, Musical Theater, politics for a good argument, genealogy, Scotland and owls
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