Happy New Year! If you’re in Scotland, you would be celebrating Hogmanay and first-footing — the first person to cross your threshold in the new year will determine the luck of the year. A tall dark man seems to be the best omen! 😉 Imagine that. It’s especially so if he brings salt, coal, whisky or a black bun.
According to Wikipedia, the term’s origin is a matter of debate, possibly French, possibly Goidelic, but I of course want to believe it’s Norse:
Some authors reject both the French and Goidelic theories and instead suggest that the ultimate source both for the Norman French, Scots and Goidelic variants of this word are to be found in a common Norse root. It is suggested that the full formula Hoginanaye-Trollalay/Hogman aye, Troll a lay (with a Manx cognate Hop-tu-Naa, Trolla-laa) invokes the hill-men (Icelandic haugmenn, cf Anglo-Saxon hoghmen) or “elves” and banishes the trolls into the sea (Norse á læ “into the sea”). Repp furthermore makes a link between Trollalay/Trolla-laa and the rhyme recorded in Percy’s Relics Trolle on away, trolle on awaye. Synge heave and howe rombelowe trolle on away which he reads as a straight-forward invocation of troll-banning.
This is where we get the wide-spread tradition of singing Robert Burns’ “Auld Lang Syne” at the birth of the new year. Around Scotland there are other traditions varying by area. Apparently in Dundee they decorate herring (o_O) while in Fife they lead a procession of torches into the hills. In Edinburgh, they have music and pipers and parades and then, fireworks!
However you welcome in the new year, may it bring you great joy.