Hogmanay Customs: New Zealand and Scotland

New Zealand has developed its own New Year’s Eve traditions over the years, and the Scottish Country Dancing community celebrates Hogmanay in its own particular way.

This year Johnsonville Club organised the Hogmanay dance on 31 December 2019, and member Pat Reesby videoed Piping in the First Foot and Sweeping out the Old Year. You can find links to her videos at the very bottom of this Wellington Region Hogmanay article.

Doug Sinclair piping in First Foot Jason Morris

Aileen Logie was leader of the band for our Hogmanay dance, and she found it interesting comparing these customs with how Hogmanay is celebrated in modern day Scotland. Read what Aileen has to say below.

Aileen Logie playing in the band with Iain and Jason at the Wellington Region Hogmanay

It’s wonderful this Victorian version of Hogmanay persists in Wellington – it doesn’t quite happen like this in Scotland now! Everybody cleans their house and gets all business/jobs finished ready to start the new year with a clean sheet and new resolve.

Celebration is immediately after the last bell of midnight – primed with a charged glass and counting the seconds down. Chaos for the next wee while – hugging, toasting and singing.

The First Foot is important – whoever first crosses the threshold after midnight (can’t be from your house) determines the luck of the household for the next year – a tall, dark, handsome, male scores top ratings.

Usually a neighbour appears (after bringing in the New Year in his own house) carrying the required items – traditionally, a lump of coal (warmth), black bun (sustenance) and whisky (water of life). But coal and black bun are becoming rare, so humorous substitutes turn up, but the whisky is a forever staple. He gives everybody a dram from his whisky bottle and gets some cake/singing/dancing in return. People then go from house to house in their street. If a fine night, sometimes dancing in the street.

Councils are now tending towards organising an event in the town centre to contain the noise/people in one place! These attract tourists in large numbers, so the council rigs up bands, weather cover, food stalls etc so Hogmanay is transmogrifying into something more like a music festival especially in cities. Older locals shake their heads, stay away and stick to the old ways at home…or just go to bed.

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