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British Billy's Happy Hogmanay

Happy Hogmanay! Hogmanay is a Scottish celebration held every New Year's Eve. Celebrations start in the early evening and minutes before the New Year, a lone piper plays, then the bells of Big Ben chime at midnight; afterwards, everyone joins hands and sings 'Auld Lang Syne'

Happy Hogmanay! Hogmanay is a Scottish celebration held every New Year's Eve. Celebrations start in the early evening and minutes before the New Year, a lone piper plays, then the bells of Big Ben chime at midnight; afterwards, everyone joins hands and sings 'Auld Lang Syne'

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- As the other Alpha male in our happy homestead happens to be a proud Scotsman, my whiskers are already bristling with anticipation as the New Year approaches. The Scots have always preferred to postpone their seasonal celebrations for a few days to welcome in the New Year, an occasion the Scots call 'Hogmanay'.

At Hogmanay, the Scottish reputation for hospitality and enjoyment finds its fullest expression. It is infectious! Hogmanay is celebrated on every New Year's Eve. Whether you are at home with family or amongst the heaving crowds on the streets of the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, you are assured of the warmest welcome that will make you forget the frostiest night.

On the city streets, celebrations start in the early evening and reach a crescendo by midnight. Minutes before the start of the New Year, a lone piper plays; then the bells of Big Ben chime at the turn of midnight, there's lots of kissing, and then everyone joins hands and sings '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 auld lang syne,
We'll tak a cup o'kindness yet
For auld lang syne!

The words are written in old Scots, the language commonly spoken in Scotland until 1707 when Scotland's Parliament dissolved itself and was merged with England. The words were adapted by Rabbie Burns, Scotland's National poet, from a traditional poem. A rough translation would be:

Should old friends be forgotten,
And never remembered?
Should old friends be forgotten,
And days gone by?

For days gone by, my dear,
For days gone by,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For days gone by.

Throughout Scotland and in many parts of northern England, there is the New Year's tradition of 'first footing'. If a "tall, dark stranger" appears at your door at the stroke of midnight with a lump of coal for the fire, a cake or coin, then many hold the belief that the year ahead will be a prosperous one.

I may not be tall or dark, but I am very handsome indeed and wish you all the very happiest and h6eartiest of Hogmanays.

In the words of a traditional Scots toast at Hogmanay:

A guid New Year to ane an' a'!
'A good New Year to one and all.'

Ask a Scotsman to read this to you - you'll love the accent!