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Hogmanay celebration and origins

Hogmanay (Moon of the Hag), Oidhche Challuinn, New Year's Eve, St. Sylvester's Day

Celtic Times

Since the Dark Ages of Britain, in Celtic countries and regions Hogmanay or New Year's Eve has always taken precedence over the Christmas festival. The customs and traditions were practised more so in Scotland than any other Celtic country or region. At this time bonfires were lit and kept in all night to ward off evil spirits and also to encourage the sun to return. This symbolised the burning of the old year out.


Dressing up as horned animals was a tradition descended from pagan animal god worship. It was customary on New Year's Eve for people to walk the town and houses carrying cow hides and chanting rhymes in Gaelic whilst at the same time beating skins with sticks and striking walls of houses with clubs to keep hostile spirits at bay. 'Guising', the dressing up of people in disguise, is still practised today at festival times and particularly at Halloween.


As at the Festival of Halloween (Samhain), divination was practised and resolutions were made. It was custom to place a silver coin outside the house on New Year's Eve, if the coin remained there the following day it would indicate a prosperous year ahead. This led to the custom of placing a piece of coal, a piece of bread and a silver sixpence outside the house for good luck and prosperity. The New Year was a focal point for all household tasks and business to be completed.

First Footing

The custom of 'first footing' is now practised worldwide on New Year's Eve. On this day people would visit their friends and relatives. The Old Year would be let out through the back door and the New Year let in through the front door at the chimes of midnight. It was custom that the first person at the New Year to pass over the threshold should be a dark haired male bringing coal or whisky for luck in the New Year.

St. Sylvester

The 31st December is also St. Sylvester's Day. St. Sylvester was Pope from AD314 until he died in Rome on December 31st AD335. According to legend he cured Roman Emperor Constantine I of leprosy.

Ne'er Day

In Scotland, New Years Day was known as Ne'er Day. In 1600 the 1st January officially became New Years Day. This meant that the celebrations which were traditionally practised on 6th January and Celtic quarter days were moved to the 1st January as part of the Yuletide celebrations, in particular the customs of 'first footing' and divination.

Modern Times

The celebration of Hogmanay has now spread worldwide. On New Year's Eve, Scotland, the home of Hogmanay, becomes the focal point of the entire world. As the twelve bells chime, millions of Scots together with billions of people from all parts of the globe welcome the New Year in to the tune of the Robert Burns song 'Auld lang syne' (for old times sake). People gather in public places to celebrate Hogmanay, from the shadows of Edinburgh Castle to George Square in Glasgow and Times Square in New York and Trafalgar Square in London, the Scottish tradition of welcoming in the New Year is passionately celebrated.

Gift Selection

All items can be gift wrapped and sent with a personal message at no extra cost.

For you to celebrate your Hogmanay in Scottish style and toast the New Year at the chime of the 12 bells, why not choose from our range of Scottish Thistle glassware.

Scottish Thistle goblet Water set in Scottish Thistle design Scottish Thistle tumbler Dram glass or shot glass in Scottish Thistle design

Our Scottish themed tea towels make an ideal gift for a Hogmanay event. A high quality product available in beautiful designs. We also have matching porcelain mugs.

Tea Towel in Highland Stag design Tea Towel in Highland Cow Design Tea Towel in Flower of Scotland Design
Porcelain Mug in Highland Stag Design Porcelain Mug in Highland Cow design Porcelain Mug in Flower of Scotland design

This Hogmanay dress your table with the red and green Argyll design which is derived from Scottish Tartan and is available in bread basket, placemats, table napkins, table runners and table cloths. The range is ideal for those special celebrations and occasions.

Bread Basket in Argyll design Pair of Table Napkins in Argyll design Pair of Place Mats in Argyll design Large Table Runner in Argyll design

The Glencoe Thistle is our customers' favourite Scottish design, available in embroidered cosmetic bag, doilies, table runner, napkins, jewellery purse, jewellery roll, pill box purse, spectacles case and pocket tissue holder.

Pair of Small Doilies in Glencoe Thistle Design Large Doily in Glencoe Thistle Design Pair of Table Napkins in Glencoe Thistle Design Table Runner in Glencoe Thistle Design
Jewellery Purse in Glencoe Thistle Design Double Spectacles Case in Glencoe Thistle Design Jewellery Roll in Glencoe Thistle design Pill Box Purse in Glencoe Thistle Design Pocket Tissue Cover in Glencoe Thistle Design

The Scottish Thistle Bute design is a contemporary Thistle design in blues and purples. A popular addition to our Scottish Thistle range, available in pill box purse, spectacles cover and table runners.

Runner in Bute design Spectacles Case in Bute design Pill Box Purse in Bute design

The Balmoral Thistle design is one of our customer's favourite Scottish Thistle designs. The beautifully embroidered items include table runners, doilies, jewellery rolls, jewellery purses, pill box purses, pocket tissue covers and spectacles cases. All make lovely gifts for the Hogmanay celebrations.

Table Napkins in Balmoral Thistle design Green table runner in Balmoral Thistle design Specs Case in Balmoral Thistle design Pocket Tissue Cover in Balmoral Thistle design
Bookmark in Scottish Thistle design Pill box in Scottish Thistle design Pen in Scottish Thistle design Paperweight in Scottish Thistle design
iPad Sleeve in Fuchsia Check Harris Tweed iPad and Kindle Sleeves by Bertie Girl individually hand crafted and skillfully sewn to a high standard. Produced in the Highlands of Scotland with Harris Tweed woven in the Outer Hebrides. Great gifts for your Hogmanay event. Kindle Sleeve in Purple

Winged Heart design and create handpainted stained glass gifts in the Scottish borders. They are the leading company in the UK for handpainted stained glass gifts. Their range of designs are available in paperweights, mirrors, static window clings, window roundels and panels. The Scottish Thistle window roundel, Scottish Flowers static window cling and Scottish Thistles and Flowers paperweight are shown below.

Window Roundel in Scottish Thistle design Static Window Cling in Scottish Flowers design  Paperweight in Scottish Thistle and Flowers design
Table runner and table mat in Plaid design Ideal for Hogmanay celebrations is the red and green Plaid design which is derived from Scottish Tartan. The range is beautifully made and available in placemats which can be matched with the Hem Stitch table cloth and is ideal for those special occasions. Table mat in Plaid design
Table Cloth in Highland Plaid design Introducing the Highland Plaid design in green and purple. Available in various sizes of table cloth. This range can also be matched with the Hem Stitch table cloth. Table cloth in Highland Plaid design

A Happy and Prosperous New Year to all our customers

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Celtic Glass Designs offer a range of stunning hand painted glassware and matching embroidered table linen for all occasions - Birthdays, Corporate and Special Events, Anniversaries, Weddings, Burns Night, Valentine's Day, St Davids Day, St Patricks Day, Mother's Day, Easter Sunday, May Day, Father's Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, St. Andrew's Day, Christmas and Hogmanay.

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