Let’s face it, this isn’t New anything that’s coming up on Tuesday. It’s Mid. “Mid-what?” you ask, knowing perfectly well but mindful of the fact that it’s panto season. Mid-winter, of course.
I know there are all sorts of pagan celebrations of different times of year but, having just looked them up, these seem to refer to New Seasons, which is fair enough.
New Year for my money should be in spring. How it ended up coming a week after Christmas is anybody’s guess. People online haver about it authoritatively but, after perusing half a dozen blogs and websites, you end up totally fogged and none the wiser.
Certainly there’s no mention of New Year in the Bible. You don’t read aboot the apostles stoatin’ forth with a half-bottle of Bell’s and a slab of black bun.
Despite the somewhat ill-fitting attribution of New Year as an especially Scottish thing, I think most of us who grew up in the post-medieval period never really cared much for it, particularly since, as children, we always thought it a poor competitor with Christmas.
There’s also that association with strong liquor. For better or worse, that never figured much in our house when I was growing up. My mother would have two sips of sherry on Christmas Day and declare herself impossibly tiddly.
My dad had an occasional whisky when his pal visited, but he added lemonade to it, the scoundrel, and with every sip made a face like a child tasting cough medicine. Only once can I recall him being seriously soused, and that was when he came home from his work’s Christmas party and fell into the bath (empty, fortunately).
The problem was he was so sloshed that he couldn’t get out again and, after waving his arms and legs about for a bit, like a beetle on its back, just fell asleep there. My mother never spoke to him for three days.
We always sat up for the bells at midnight in our house and also followed that hallowed tradition of praying that no one turned up at the door. When I came of age and wandered up town on Hogmanay out of a sense of ritual, and the perpetual hope of romance, I never really could get into the spirit of it.
I’m not really a loud person and found it all a little too convivial. Personally, I would prefer a brief, respectable shaking of the hands, accompanied by some mumbling.
The other odd thing about New Year in Scotland is that, following the misconception that we like it more than Christmas, everything shuts for ages at New Year while, after Yule, it’s all up and running again on Boxing Day.
All that said, I don’t want to come across here as the New Year equivalent of Scrooge. While I remain convinced that children – at whom Christmas is really aimed – don’t give a fig for New Year, I’m sure that youths and other inebriates enjoy the opportunity for a party and perchance a snog or six.
My message to them is to act responsibly at all times, kissing only people you know, after first certifying that they have no communicable diseases. Apart from that, please do keep the noise down while having fun, you lucky things.