In Scotland, there are many unique customs associated with the New Year. These form the Scottish celebration Hogmanay—the Scots name for New Year’s Eve. The street party in Princes Street in Edinburgh is one famous example.
There are many customs, both national and local, associated with Hogmanay. The most widespread national custom is the practice of first-footing, which starts immediately after midnight. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour and often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as salt (less common today), coal, shortbread, whisky, and black bun (a rich fruit cake) intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. Food and drink (as the gifts) are then given to the guests.
This may go on throughout the early hours of the morning and well into the next day (although modern days see people visiting houses well into the middle of January). The first-foot is supposed to set the luck for the rest of the year. Traditionally, tall, dark men are preferred as the first-foot.
In Scottish folklore, the first-foot is the first person to enter the home of a household on New Year’s Day and a bringer of good fortune for the coming year.
Although it is acceptable in many places for the first-footer to be a resident of the house, they must not be in the house at the stroke of midnight in order to first-foot (thus going out of the house after midnight and then coming back in to the same house is not considered to be first-footing).
It is said to be desirable for the first-foot to be a tall, dark-haired male. A female or fair-haired male are in some places regarded as unlucky.
The first-foot usually brings several gifts, including perhaps a coin (silver is considered good luck), bread, salt, coal, or a drink (usually whiskey), which represent financial prosperity, food, flavor, warmth, and good cheer respectively.
Here’s a “wish list” of sorts, adapted from http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/travel/tourists-flock-to-scotland-s-magnificent-seven-attractions-1-4039181#ixzz41ScsirTe
Been there in 2015, will go back in 2016: A total of 1.57 million people paid to visit Edinburgh Castle during 2015, though the other places attracting a million visitors were free to enter.
The National Museum of Scotland was the second most popular tourist site in Scotland in 2015, followed by the Scottish National Gallery and (saw the outside in 2015) St Giles Cathedral.
In Glasgow, (maybe 2016?) Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which ten years ago, undertook a three-year, £27.9 million refurbishment, was the most popular place for people to visit, attracting 1.26 million visitors in 2015.
Loch Lomond Shores in Balloch was the remaining site to pass the one million mark.
Professor John Lennon pg Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “Scotland is clearly punching above its weight in visitor attraction performance.”
In the list of the top ten paid for attractions, Stirling Castle also performed well, attracting 458,932 visitors last year.
In the non-paid for category, after (want to see, maybe 2016?) Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens, which saw 836,755 visitors flock through its doors in 2015, Gretna Green’s Famous Blacksmith’s Shop was the next popular, with 775,868 tourist visits.
The Helix Park in Falkirk, which features the Kelpies horse head sculptures and the Falkirk Wheel provided a combined appeal to 1.3 million visitors to Scotland. Other top paid-for sites included Edinburgh Zoo, (Been there in 2015) Edinburgh Bus Tours, Glasgow Science Centre and (Been there in 2015, completely by accident) Urquhart Castle in Drumnadrochit.
The Royal Yacht Britannia and the Scotch Whisky Experience, both in Edinburgh, the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick and Culzean Castle and Country Park in Ayrshire completed the top 10 paid-for list.
We’ll see what 2016 holds and maybe add on a 2017 trip?
Right now our 2016 trip includes 3 days in Edinburgh to see the Edinburgh Tattoo again (HOORAY!). Hopefully I will be able to get to the top of Edinburgh Castle to see the Scottish National War Memorial where my grandfather’s name is listed as a war hero.
Then, we move on to Glasgow for 7 days. No real plans yet, but we’re taking a side trip to Lockerbie, a trip I’ve wanted to make for several years.
Someday, I would love to visit Eilean Donan Castle, the one that’s in the Piano Guys video This is Your Fight Song…