Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Hogmanay in Ulster

On 1 January 1912 the Northern Whig carried an article on Hogmanay, from which this is extracted:

Though in Ireland new years's eve has nothing like the festive significance which tradition attaches to the observance of Hogamanay amongst our Scottish friends, Belfast's adherence to the time-honoured custom of publicly and demonstratively 'seeing the old year out'. keeps the celebration from being altogether a dead letter on this side of the water.  It is a tribute to the influence of the Scottish element in Ulster that the festival is kept up year after year with an enthusiasm hardly surpassed in the country where it is regarded as one of the chief holidays.
When I was growing up, on 'old year's night' my mother always attended the watchnight service in a local church.  When she returned home she brought in a piece of coal as part of the tradition of 'first footin'.  It may have been because she was born in Scotland but as I recall such traditions were more prevalent in Ulster at that time and they were certainly reinforced by the thoroughly Scottish hogmanay programmes on television.

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