It’s almost here! The turning of the old year into the new has always been a momentous occasion in Scotland.
It’s a time to remember Hogmanays of the past, the stories, the fun – the friends and loved ones no longer with us.
I defy any Scot not to shed a tear when the bells chime at midnight.
When I was a child, it was a very special time that started with a day of frantic house cleaning by mum and gran.
It was a night when my brother and I were allowed to stay up in our pyjamas until midnight, and toast in the New Year with glasses of home made blackcurrant and raspberry cordials.
It was a night when our dad was put outside with the rest of the neighbours. He had to stand in the dark clutching a slice of black bun, a bottle of whisky, and a lump of coal wrapped in silver foil (representing food, drink, and fuel for the fire) just so he could come back indoors and be our lucky ‘first foot’ at the bells.
The ‘first footing’ tradition still survives in Scotland, but to ensure good luck, that person should be a tall, dark male.
Maybe it’s something to do with Viking times, when a blond stranger arriving on your doorstep meant trouble.
These days, though, he’s more likely to bring shortbread rather than coal. No one minds – so long as he doesn’t forget the dram.
In more recent times Edinburgh has launched its own Hogmanay tradition by throwing open its doors and inviting everyone to a great party in Princes Street.
It’s some years since that began and tonight, 75,000 people from all over the world are expected to party there.
The crowds, the music, the atmosphere and fireworks will be seen globally by millions of TV viewers.
But when the city’s famous Mons Meg canon booms out from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle at midnight, I’ll be remembering all those other Hogmanays – and my dad coming in with his ‘first footing’ gifts.
There’s a lump in my throat already.
Happy New Year, everyone.