Best January traditions in Scotland

best january traditions in scotland

Well, I think we should be updating ourselves on the best January traditions in Scotland to ensure we meet all the traditional First Footing requirements to ensure the best possible luck for 2021.

So here is a recap of these so important First Footing Scottish traditions:

  • firstly, tradition dictates that the first footer should be a tall, dark-haired man as in some places, women or fair-haired men are considered deeply unlucky. The common belief is that blond strangers on your doorstep originally meant Viking invaders.
  • secondly the first-footer does not enter the house empty-handed – first-footers who do arrive empty-handed will bring bad luck with them.
  • thirdly, the first footer should bring a selection of gifts which can include a silver coin, shortbread or a black bun, salt, coal, and a drink, usually whisky. These gifts represent prosperity, food, flavour, warmth for the house, and good cheer – the whisky is used to toast the new year.
  • if you want to take these traditions further, some suggest that the first footer is asked to empty out the dustbin to signify the end of the Old Year – I think that would be a really good idea for 2020!

Once again, traditional Scottish House parties would have practically arranged for the first footer to be outside at 11.55 pm and to arrive bearing these gifts at Midnight, and no doubt the gift of whisky helped to ensure continuing celebrations. Traditionally, these celebrations would continue to the early morning hours, contributing to the traditional New Year’s Day dinner choice mentioned below.

Black BunGrowing up in a Scottish household, Black Bun was always our part of traditional Hogmanay – more so than Christmas cake. Described by Robert Louis Stephenson in 1879 as Currant Loaf, this rich, dense fruit cake is covered in pastry. For those of you who have not experienced Black Bun, I recommend you try it; maybe this is the year to do it.

Of course, many parts of the World have their own traditions, for example, eating Black Eyed Peas in the Southern States for New Year. I imagine many of us will be hoping we have made our own luck and have our fingers crossed for Covid 19 vaccine roll out.

However, it makes you think how all these traditions came about – would you have associated a tall, dark-haired man welcomed for not being a Viking raider?

More of the Best January Traditions in Scotland

Another Scottish tradition is eating Steak Pie for a ritual Ne’erday dinner.  Partly due to Hogmanay being so widely and enthusiastically celebrated!  Plus, the fact that New Year’s Day only became a Bank Holiday in Scotland in 1971 meant that people would have traditionally been working with little time to cook, so it became easy to purchase a Steak Pie from the local butcher. Traditionally this pie should be circular to show the blending of one year to the next – perhaps this is a good year to go for a different shape.

St Ninians Beach

Scottish tradition also dictates that we get a second opportunity to welcome the New Year in with the Burning of the Clavie fire festival in Burghead. Further afield the Viking Fire Festivals of Up Helly Aa take place in Shetland celebrate the end of Winter and beginning of Summer in Shetland – if Shetland is on your visit list and it should be then this can be a fun event.

Haggis Neeps and Tatties - traditional Burns Night Supper

And more of the Best January 2021 Traditions in Scotland

Burns Night is a January tradition perhaps more renowned than Hogmanay.  The 25th of the month marks the birthday of Robbie Burns, the National Bard, so throughout the country, Haggis Neeps and Tatties are on the menu.

Ideally, the haggis should be piped in by a local piper and correctly addressed with the Burns poem Address to a Haggis. Clootie Dumpling and dancing will follow. This is another January tradition I vividly remember as my Father would practice his Address to the Haggis.

And like the rest of the world, resolutions are made in January. Here at Blervie, we take a step back to revisit, review and renew all that we can do.

Keeping abreast of the latest Pandemic restrictions and making sure everyone stays safe, we can only hope to see you later in the year. At this time of year, these are our normal traditions anyway – only as we all know only too well, it is all just a bit different for the time being.

So this leaves you with a quick recap on the best January traditions in Scotland – you have just got time to find a tall, dark, handsome stranger, some coal, silver coins, a Black Bun, a dustpan and brush, plus a good Whisky and let’s all see 2020 out as best we can.