Happy Hogmanay! Be safe, Edinburgh.

As we wind down 2012, it’s time for celebration in Scotland. Hogmanay, the Scottish word for the last day of the year is synonymous with the welcoming of the New Year. All across Scotland, revelers celebrate Hogmanay in a huge way with spectacular fireworks, A-list concerts, carnivals, and parades. “Scotland has always been known as more of a New Year’s place than a Christmas place,” says Joseph Winders, chief concierge at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh.

The Balmoral’s infamous clock tower is a proud Edinburgh mainstay year-round, but it plays an important part of the Hogmanay celebration on New Year’s Eve. “It’s always set three minutes fast because it’s above a railway station and we don’t want people to miss their trains,” says Winders. Once a year, however, on Hogmanay, the clock reflects the correct time because it acts as the official timepiece as the city counts down to the new year.

Photograph by Junichi Ishito, Flickr
Intelligent Travel’s Urban Insider, Annie Fitzsimmons, gives us an inside look at the Five Must-Knows About Hogmanay including the tradition of first-footing. One of the most important traditions of Hogmanay, first-footing is when neighbors go next door to be the first to cross the threshold to welcome in the new year. The tradition is that the first person who comes into anybody’s house should be a tall, dark handsome man. Handsome or not, every ‘first foot’ that crosses into their neighbor’s home is expected to bring a gift for their hosts. In return for being the first over the hearth, the first foot receives a gift (usually a lump of coal, salt, whiskey, shortbread, or cookies) and the promise of good luck in the new year.

While Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebration traditionally centers around Princes Street, it also features one of the longest fireworks display in the city’s history. Here, final preparations are being made for the 2011 celebration.
Works for me. Sounds much better than hanging out in Times Square just waiting for the ball to drop. How about you?

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