Happy New Year! Or Should I Say Happy Hogmanay?

Happy 2018

Wishing you a Happy New Year, or as they say in Scotland, Happy Hogmanay!

BagpiperNew Year’s Eve has long been a popular holiday in Scotland, sometimes more than Christmas, even. According to Wikipedia, one reason for that may date to the Protestant Reformation when some of the more conservative churches refused to celebrate Christmas because of its rather obvious pagan customs, like decorating with greenery and burning the Yule log. (This changed during the Victorian period.)

Hogmanay celebrations include New Year’s Eve parties, with the countdown to midnight and singing of Auld Lang Syne, written by Scottish poet Robert Burns. And what Scottish celebration would be complete without whisky, shortbread and a bagpiper?

gorgeous man

A good choice for the first-foot!

One of the more interesting Hogmany customs is the First-Foot, the notion that the first person to cross the threshold of a home heralded good luck or bad luck. A tall dark-haired man is the most desirable first-foot, who crosses the threshold bearing gifts after midnight. Women and fair-haired men supposedly bring bad luck.

Auld Lang Syne was written by Robert Burns in 1788 and is sung to the tune of an old folk melody. No longer just popular in Scotland, it’s now sung world wide on New Year’s Eve.

Burn’s original words are:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?


For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

I hope 2018 is a good year for all us!


Edinburgh Cityscape with fireworks over The Castle and Balmoral Clock Tower

Visit to Urquhart Castle Scotland #TuesdayTravels

Tuesday Travel button
Urquhart Castle, subject of today’s Tuesday Travels, has been on my list of “must see” places for a long time, so I was thrilled to find a shore excursion that included Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness and Culloden Moor.

Urquhart Castle
The castle’s visitor’s center was our first stop after lunch. We got off the motorcoach and entered the visitor’s center where we went into a large room to view a film about the castle. At the end of the movie, the screen went up and the row of curtains at the front opened up to reveal a stunning panorama of the ruined castle situated on the edge of the loch. A brilliant piece of showmanship.

Medieval catappultThe history of the castle spans more than four centuries. Founded in the 1200s and destroyed in the 1600s, Urquhart was the target of raids by Clan MacDonald and was at times captured by the English. At one time, it was one of the largest castles in Scotland and is still an impressive ruin. I took a number of photos on the meandering walk down to the ruin, including a stop by the Medieval catapult. In 1297, after the castle was captured by the English under Edward I, Sir Andrew de Moray laid siege to the castle, presumably using a similar catapult. The castle was occupied by British troops in 1690 during one of the Jacobite uprisings. The soldiers blew it up when they left, and the castle became a romantic ruin.

Today’s visitors can wander through the rooms and climb some of the remaining, very narrow stairways. Here’s a view from inside the tower.

Urquhart TowerCan you imagine living there? I can’t imagine it was much fun, since castles were cold and drafty, but you’d have to work hard to find a house with a better view!

Urquhart Castle view