The Scottish ring in the New Year with a dook, a ba', a ceilidh, and some dogs (mind the shite)
Have you ever wondered how people in Scotland celebrate the New Year? Actually, they do things much like we do in Canada (ootside activities) just with funny names, sausage rolls, mulled wine, and hot soup instead of ersatz champagne.
With the help of the Scotsman's Patrick McPartlin, Google, and some insiders, we bring you some activities still taking place in Caledonia amid what McPartlin says is a "toning down" of New Year festivities in Scotland’s major cities. No-fun Picty? Pity.
The Loony Dook
This weel-kent version of Vancouver’s polar-bear swim has been around for 25 years. Every New Year’s Day in South Queensferry, Edinburgh, hungover revellers and others so inclined dash into the Firth of Forth for a rude awakening, or "loony dook" (lunatic dip). They seem to embrace the costuming part of the Hogmanay tradition wholeheartedly (Google Loony Dook images for confirmation).
This event for dog fanciers also takes place in Edinburgh, at Holyrood Park. Five sled-dog breeds—Samoyeds, Alaskan malamutes, Siberian huskies, Canadian Eskimo Dogs, and Greenland dogs—strut their stuff and race modified dry-land tricycles for those seeking a literal hair o’ the dog. Just watch ye dinna step in the wee piles o’ shite.
Pitlochry street party
The town of Pitlochry in Perthshire already hosts three months of Highland nights (every Monday eve in the summer, with the Vale of Atholl Junior Pipe Band piping the tourists through the streets like so many border collies with sheep), so why not a daylong Hogmanay party? It has only been around for a dozen years, mind, so it’s not an ancient tradition, but the idea of a cèilidh certainly is. Free food, up your kilt, and a singing of "Auld Lang Syne".
Kind of like a mass street-hockey game, except it’s street football, the Ba’ in Kirkwall in Orkney involves upwards of 350 men scrumming up and doon the streets and lanes of the oldest town in those northern isles. Except man and ba’ don’t stop for cars (and, given that the tradition started in the mid-17th century, never used to). The two sides, called the Uppies and the Doonies, try to deposit the ball either in the waters of Kirkwall Bay or "round the Lang" opposite the site of the old town gates, now a Catholic church. Non-Orcadians are discouraged from participating, but ferryloupers from outlying areas and islands take part nowadays.