While Christmas in North America is a month long buildup of festivities, reflecting a melting pot of religious, cultural and secular traditions, New Years is more of an after thought, one last party before getting back to business. In Scotland however, Christmas is a low key celebration with a build up to New Years, called Hogmanay, the biggest party of the year. Since the Crawleys visit their scottish relatives in the S3 Christmas episode I thought it fitting to pay tribute to the great feast.
In the late 1500s, the Scottish Reformation abolished Christmas, which lasted for 400 hundred years. Most Scots had to work on Christmas Day until the 1960s. In the early 1600s, they changed the date of New Year’s from March 25 to January 1, and began celebrating Hogmanay. Christmas is still celebrated with family as a low key affair, but then the Scots pull out all the stops for a two day holiday.
Throughout Scotland Hogmanay is filled with all kinds of festivals, parties, bonfires and, more recently, fireworks. Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Festival lasts for days and includes one of the most spectacular fireworks displays in the world.
Some of the Scottish traditions have become part of our own New Year’s Eve celebrations. We sing Auld Lang Syne at midnight and make New Year’s resolutions, both invented by the Scots.
Downton Abbey Season 3 Christmas Episode- A Journey to the Highlands
The Season 3 Christmas episode was broadcast to UK viewers on Christmas Day. Unlike the previous Christmas special, it was not set at Christmas time. The episode follows the Crawleys on a visit to the Scottish Highlands to visit their cousin “Shrimpie”, the Marquess of Flintshire. The party left most of Downton’s servants behind, who made merry back in Yorkshire at a fair. I am still digesting all the events that occur in the two hour episode and I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the common thread appears to be that many characters see happiness just beyond their reach. It definitely has a different feel from last year’s Christmas episode, but life moves on whether we wish it to or not.
What to Enjoy on Hogmanay
Auld Man’s Milk
Auld Man's Milk, the Scots version of Egg Nog
- 6 large eggs separated
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 4 cups milk
- 1 cup rum, whisky or brandy
- 1 pinch nutmeg, freshly grated for garnish
- Beat yolks and whites separately. Add the sugar to the egg yolks, whisk in the milk, then add the alcohol.
- Gently mix in the whipped whites. Grate nutmeg and serve in small glasses.
- Ensure that the drink is kept cold.
- Lang may yer lum reek (long may your chimney smoke) wishing wealth to keep enough coal burning in your fireplace to keep warm, and the home fires burning.
- A guid New Year to ane an' a' and mony may ye see, a wish for a good New Year to one and all
For the Downton Fan