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Hogmanay is the Scottish New Year celebration, with the word itself meaning the last day of the year in the Scots language.
There are a variety of traditions associated with Hogmanay, many of which have their roots in pagan winter celebrations and the use of fire to ward off darkness dwelling evil spirits. Bonfires, fireworks, and torchlight processions are all features of Hogmanay, and the north-eastern coastal town of Stonehaven has the amazing Fireball Ceremony, which sees the locals parade up and down the High Street swinging giant fireballs around their heads before throwing them in the harbour!
Perhaps the most famous Hogmanay tradition is that of the first-footing, which associates luck for the coming year with the first person to cross the threshold of a home after midnight on New Year's Day. This is a tradition shared with the North of England and the Isle of Man and bears many similarities to New Year's traditions from other countries such as Greece, Georgia, and Vietnam.
In Scotland, the first-footer should be either a brand-new visitor to the house, or have left before midnight to return afterward, and ought to come bearing a gift such as shortbread or the pastry covered fruitcake known as black bun. Other traditional first-footing gifts include coal to symbolise warmth, coins for prosperity, and whisky for good cheer. Tradition also asks that the first-foot be a tall, dark-haired man. It is thought that the association of ill-luck with fair hair stems from the time of the Viking invasions.
The singing of Auld Lang Syne to herald in the New Year is a Hogmanay tradition which has become common all over the world.
In New Zealand, Hogmanay events are organised each year by Scottish societies and associations all over the country.
Hogmanay is the last day of the year. December the 31st every year.