LOOKING TOWARD THE LIGHT ~ Yule, Christmas & Hogmanay Celebrations~aka:WE SCOTS HAVE FUN

This Friday is the Winter Solstice, the close of the dark half of the year and the rekindling of the light half, which begins on Saturday. I love this time of year, not only because Yule & Christmas celebrations are in full swing, most of which are joyous, but because the resurgence of the light fills me with renewed energy and more than a little hope that the New Year will bring more blessings.

I am a light person. I wouldn’t fare well in Alaska where there is no respite from the light during the sun season, but I’m not one for complete balance either. I like more light than dark. Yule, Christmas and Scottish Hogmanay are all celebrations of light and hope, love and joy.
In Celtic traditions, evergreen boughs are traditionally brought in to decorate the home and remind us of the greenness past and to come. Fires are lit to capture the essence of the sun and to celebrate it. Holly is traditionally venerated because it stays green year round and its berries, red and white, are seen as representative of the Deity. I love the symbology, the richness of the season and most of all sharing it with those I love.
I come from Scottish and Norse traditions and love everything about them. HOGMANAY is a uniquely Scottish celebration. There are some loose translations for the term, including: “Great love day”, “New Morning”, “Man is Born-or-ReBorn”. Yule is a Norse festival and the New Year is called, “Yules”.  As many of you know northern Scotland, especially the Isles, has a strong Norse influence, making their festivals a dramatic joy to behold. I embrace it all!
Here’s a photo of the Norse Up-Hella-A held in Scotland (Shetland) as part of the Yule Fire Festival. The farther north (Shetland and Orkney are far north) the more noticeable and powerful the coming light is and the fire festivals hold huge significance. In southern Scotland fireballs are thrown into the air for Hogmanay. Hospitality is always huge, but especially on New Year’s Eve when a “tall, dark, handsome stranger” at your door carrying a piece of coal (prosperity-comfort) and cake (fulfillment) is a good omen. Blonds…not so good (left over from Viking raids). This is the tradition of “first footing” and although no one much cares about hair color anymore, gifts of warmth, food and probably whisky are given to all those entering the home.

Cleaning is still a Hogmanay tradition. The idea is to say goodbye to the old year and its sorrows by sweeping away the old and those things no longer needed and welcoming in the new with a clean heart and the open arms of hospitality.


More recently (1788) the singing of Scottish poet, Robert Burns’, Auld Lang Syne is sung to an even older (1700 or so) Scottish tune. In the last 20 years the Loony Dook has been practiced on New Years Day morning when people get dressed up in their finery, go down to the River Forth, strip and take a dip. I won’t be doing that, no matter how much Scotland’s bonny river banks may be calling.

We will celebrate the Solstice, Christmas and Hogmanay with those we love this year. We will each light a home-made candle and help lay the fire. We will sing and dance and welcome the New Year with joy in our hearts and hope for even better days. We will eat Krumkake (Norwegian cookies) and Macski’s Haggis (National dish of Scotland) and  smoked salmon. And I think more than one glass will be raised to you and all those we hold dear.
Merry Christmas, Happy Yule and a “Guid New Year” at Hogmany to you All!

Krumkake Recipe (handed down by my grandfather):

3 eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup melted butter, 1tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup flour. Beat eggs until light and gradually add remaining ingredients. Drop 1 Tbs into the center of a heated krumkake iron. Savor the goodness.

Scottish Haggis, Neeps & Tatties:

Simple and delicious, prepare one Macski’s hagggis per instructions and serve with buttered mashed potatoes, boiled & mashed rutabagas or parsnips, and a wee dram of your favorite Scotch whisky.

A traditional Yule Ball plays a part in A Potters Woods Christmas, a Christmas short story that is part of Authors of Main Street Christmas bundle.

This entry was posted in Leigh's Posts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to LOOKING TOWARD THE LIGHT ~ Yule, Christmas & Hogmanay Celebrations~aka:WE SCOTS HAVE FUN

  1. Jill James says:

    I love hearing about the different ways everyone celebrates.


  2. leighmorgan1 says:

    Me too, Jill. Especially when there’s something wonderful I can incorporate into our celebrations! Have a wonderful holiday ~ much joy to you and your family!


  3. monarisk says:

    Hi Leigh, I learned a lot from your post. How interesting to discover the traditions and meals of a different culture.


    • leighmorgan1 says:

      Thanks, Mona. I love food, it is a point of connection among cultures where the differences can be fun to explore. If you haven’t had Krumkake (Crum-ka-ka), you’ll love it! It melts in your mouth with buttery goodness :). Hope you have a wonderful holiday.


  4. susanrhughes says:

    Gotta love smoked salmon!


    • leighmorgan1 says:

      I do love smoked salmon, Susan! Huge fan of salmon every way it comes. I’m developing a recipe for smoked salmon spread based on my grandmother’s, but all suggestions are welcome. When I have the recipe, the way I like it, I’m going to add it to MacSki’s Scottish Recipes where 50% of the profits will go to my MacSki’s Average Joe Scholarship Fund.

      Maybe we should do an Authors of Main Street Cook Book? I’ve got some wonderful recipes!

      Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday 🙂


  5. Edie Ramer says:

    It’s wonderful that you celebrate all the traditions. We’re having my brothers and sister and spouses at our house in a couple weeks, and my sister wants my sil to bring kugel, a noodle-butter-cream cheese, etc., Jewish recipe that our mother and our aunt used to make so well. But the funny thing is that my sister is a vegan, and she wouldn’t be able to eat it. lol I think she forgot that part.

    I hope you have a fabulous holiday!


    • leighmorgan1 says:

      I make a bunch of dishes I can’t eat either, Edie! Being a vegetarian is hard enough, I can’t imagine no cheese or butter….shiver! Hope you have a wonderful holiday as well!


Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.