First Footing & Hogmanay - The Ultimate Guide

It's a time of merriment and celebration, but it can also be a stressful time. The holiday season is filled with parties, shopping for gifts, making food to share with family and friends-all while trying to maintain sanity on the home front! 

It's not uncommon for people to feel overwhelmed during this busy time of year, especially as First Footing & Hogmanay approach. But there are many things you can do to make the holidays less stressful.

Here are some tips and a list of helpful hints and tips about First Footing and the Hogmanay tradition to make things easier.


7 ways to reduce stress during the festive season of First Footing and Hogmanay

1) Set realistic expectations about what you'll accomplish over the next few weeks; then break those tasks into manageable chunks that will feel more doable as they're completed. Be realistic about how much time you have to devote to Christmas and Hogmanay planning and shopping. Try not to take on too much.

2) Take some much needed time to relax and read in the bath. Get some beautiful coloured candles and surround yourself with a warm bubble bath.

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3) If you know there is a situation that will be stressful, prepare ahead of time by doing things like getting enough sleep the night before, arranging your day so that you won't have too many things to do at once, or asking for help.

4) Set aside one day or evening each week dedicated to festive planning and errands. This will give you a few days' cushion between your time off work and the extra demands on your schedule.

5) Tell friends and family members how you prefer to communicate during this time of year. If you prefer calls instead of texts, or emails instead of Facebook posts, let people know that. It's always good to have a plan!

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6) Get plenty of exercise and eat well and surround yourself with home fragrances that improve your mood and leave you feeling positive. It sounds simple, but these are three primary ways to cope with stress during the festive season.

7) Don't worry about everything being picture-perfect. It's the people you love that matter most, so enjoy yourself!

What are the traditions of first footing at Hogmanay?

* First footing gifts are given in many ways these days, but traditionally it was that everyone would write their name on a piece of paper and put it into a hat. The first person to cross the threshold of your house on New Year's Day would be carrying a bottle of whisky, bread and salt (known as bannocks). These ensure good luck. Traditionally in Scotland they will be tall and dark haired! They would then leave this on the table with a glass of something stronger for you - just in case you have any mischievous plans up your sleeve!

* What do you say when your Scottish ancestors visit your home?

* You could also play music or have some activity planned once people are inside your home. Play Scottish bagpipe music. It's traditional, and easy to find, since many dance studios offer lessons for them!

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* Determine what type of alcohol will be served. Will it be only beer and wine, or will there be hard liquor? Be sure to have enough of everything!! It’s a good idea to have a non-alcoholic drink, just in case you have any drivers in the house.

* While it may not matter what you wear if you're not the one who brings in First Footing, it may be helpful to make yourself look festive. An awesome idea is to choose something tartan (a traditional Scottish pattern), like a kilt or scarf.

* Have people circle what they'd like to do: sing Scottish songs, hop around the house blindfolded, dance to bagpipe music, etc. You, your friends and family, will decide beforehand which activity you'll do when each person's name is pulled from the hat!


What is First Footing Someone?

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There are many things that first footers should bring when visiting a home on Hogmanay. A scented candle, a Scottish candle or a candle in a tin are a nice touch for good cheer, as these symbolize the bringing of good luck and happiness into the home. Other items that might be appreciated include whisky, shortbread, and a small gift for the host or hostess.

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The first footing custom has many possible explanations, but likely arose from two customs brought together. One was a pagan tradition where people would go door-to-door asking for treats and items, which was called "guising". The other is about bringing in the new year with a piece of coal, which was believed to provide good luck for the coming year. The first footing custom is still practised in some places around Scotland and Ireland today. People will first go door-to-door asking "first footing" before entering people's homes where they will receive drinks and treats. Others will first go to the town square where they first light a candle from a bonfire, then first foot people in their house who have lit candles inside their windows as symbols of luck for the new year.


How to prepare your home for First Footing & Hogmanay?

A new year's celebration that brings together close friends and family members is an excellent way to start the new year. If you're planning on hosting your first Hogmanay celebration, here's an expert's advice about how to make it a success:
  • Plan a menu that is simple to prepare and offers lots of variety. Choose straightforward recipes for the most important dishes, and make those ahead of time. If you're making gravy from scratch, find a convenient recipe and practice it ahead of time so that everything goes smoothly on your big day. Avoid complicated dishes if they mean being the host-with-the-most takes too much time.
  • Decide whether you'll serve dinner or party snacks, and what appetizers or drinks you'll have. Be sure to include plenty of both. If you're serving dinner, make sure you have enough for seconds. It's also a good idea to serve soup or salad at the beginning of the meal to get everyone mingling and talking.
  • Keep it light and easy to eat while mingling. You can't go wrong with finger foods like mini quiches, cheesy breads or even the traditional Scottish Haggis!
  • See if you can enlist the help of friends or family to do the shopping, cooking and other work. Keeping this part out of your hands will help keep everything else under control.
  • Decide on the room where you'll have people gather after they've arrived, and made First Footing. You can keep this room warm with a space heater if necessary. Make sure it's clean, bright, and welcoming with scented candles placed for beautiful lighting. Dinner candles are fantastic for this.If the room has a door to another area of the house, you might want to consider keeping it closed so that guests can concentrate on greeting each other.
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  • Make plans for rounding up everything from napkins to Champagne glasses. Decide whether you'll provide morning-after breakfast food. If so, do some research in advance on the kind of food that will give people a good start in the morning - something hot and hearty is best. You can also consider including assorted muffins, coffee cakes, scones with jam and cream.
Be prepared for anything! Make sure someone is responsible for keeping track of everyone who comes into your house on New Year's Day. Most importantly, enjoy your First Footing and Hogmanay. For all your traditional Scottish gifts ready for First Footing, or if you are entertaining for Hogmanay, why not visit Shearer Candles, Glasgow website for your Scottish Candles or visit one of our candle stores in Glasgow. Right now, we are at the Country Living Christmas Fair @ SEC Glasgow from the 2nd Dec to 5th Dec Stand D3. You can come and see for yourself our beautiful scented candles, coloured candles and home fragrance ranges. Check it out now for your traditional gifts of Scotland.