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Hogmanay

The Hogmanay Street Party in Edinburgh is attended by more than 80,000 people every year and watched by many more thousands on the TV from the warmth of their own homes. It starts with a torchlight procession and the celebrations last for four days.The tradition of a big celebration at this time of year may date back to Roman times, when the winter solstice was celebrated with a big festival. Another influence is the ancient Norse winter festival of Yule. In Shetland, New Year celebrations are still known as Yules.

The reformation in Scotland meant the celebrations of Christmas were moved to New Year. This is why the Scottish Hogmanay celebrations are so extravagant, although there is no definite explanation for where the word Hogmanay comes from.

First footing is a strong Hogmanay tradition. It is said to be good luck if your first New Year visitor is a tall, dark, handsome stranger carrying a piece of coal.

The words of Scottish poet Robert Burns’ poem Auld Lang Syne can be heard loud and clear on the streets of Edinburgh after the chimes of midnight. This tradition is repeated all over the world.

Another one of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay traditions, which has been taking place for 20 years, is the Loony Dook. Hundreds of revellers in fancy dress take a quick dip in the freezing water of the River Forth at Queensferry on the morning of December 31 to celebrate New Year and raise money for charity.

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