Hogmanay, Scotland's New Year- Travel #67

in #travel2 years ago (edited)

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Dear Friends, let me bring you some joy and culture into your New Year. The New Year is celebrated all around the world in many different ways. As I grew up in Singapore, I was fortunate enough to celebrate the new calendar year and the lunar new year also known as Chinese New Year. I have to say that nobody throws a new years eve party quite like the Scottish. In Scotland, they celebrate a festival called Hogmanay. Hogmanay is a massive street party held in the nation's capital, Edinburgh. Although, Hogmanay is observed all over Scotland. You may not be familiar with the term Hogmanay. However, I am sure you are familiar with the song everyone sings as the clocks strike midnight, "Auld lang syne". "Auld lang syne" is actually a Scottish song that originated at Hogmanay. The rest of the world didn't adopt the name Hogmanay to celebrate their new year. However, they sure kept the song.

Although the origins of the name Hogmanay is not known, the Scottish believe that it comes from the French word 'hoginane' meaning 'gala day'. The first recorded observation of Hogmanay was in 1561 when Mary, Queen of Scots' returned to Scotland from France.

To find me, look for my chihuahua's face

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After an amazing trip around Europe in 2011, my family and I decided to end the year with a bang in Edinburgh. We drove up from the south of England and into Scotland. We stayed in a beautiful apartment in Edinburgh's city centre. Edinburgh is my favourite city in Scotland and is close to the top of the list of my global favourites. It has a charming combination of Medieval, Georgian and Neoclassical architecture, some of the friendliest people and the amazing fortification which is Edinburgh castle. There really is so much to love in Edinburgh. It is very hard for me to write and explain to you the vibe of a place. You have to experience it for yourself. As you walk along the cobble stone streets, it takes your breath away to gaze up to see Edinburgh Castle perched on a hill overlooking the city.

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The streets of Edinburgh completely transform for the night of Hogmanay. Barricades are placed and the main road is blocked off to vehicles to allow pedestrian access only. My younger brother Scott is wheelchair bound and even the ancient cobblestone streets of Edinburgh did not stop him from joining the world's craziest New Year's Eve street party. He is an inspiration to not only me but to many others around the world. Giving hope to anyone who may have a disability and encouraging them to travel the world. Stay tuned as he will be taking social media by storm soon.

During the night of Hogmanay, there are firework displays every hour on the hour from 8pm leading up to midnight for the mega celebration. I have never seen a road as packed with people before in all my life and I was in New York City for the Superbowl. It was jam packed, shoulder to shoulder. I was so glad I had my mum and two brothers with me. It was a crazy street party. There was music and little food and drink stalls scattered around. When the clock struck midnight, the fireworks that lit up the night sky behind Edinburgh Castle were absolutely spectacular. Edinburgh's skyline is already breath-taking with the castle. However, when the fireworks lit up the sky behind it, it was truly magical. The Scottish have a cracking sense of humour, luckily so do we. At the stroke of midnight, a group of Scottish men in their traditional kilts stood up on a high banister and flashed their nether regions towards England. Now it is traditional for Scottish men to wear nothing under their kilts so we were glad we were facing a different way.

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After the 30 minute midnight fireworks display ended, we headed back to our apartment. As nobody in my family drinks, we enjoyed some snacks and hot chocolate to end our night. I have to say that on what was a very cold night, standing in that huge crowd of people kept us pretty toasty. We were also very lucky that the weather held out and it didn't rain as there was no shelter. On the first day of the new year, we decided to visit Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh Castle much like the Tower of London in England, is home to the Honours of Scotland, Scotland's own crown jewels. An ancient jewel of Scottish royalty is the Stone of Scone or commonly known as the Stone of Destiny. It was returned to Edinburgh Castle only recently in 1996, 700 years after it was removed and stored in England.

The castle itself was built in 1103 on top of appropriately named castle rock. Castle rock formed as the result of a volcanic eruption a couple hundred million years ago. As you can see from my photographs that Edinburgh castle is perched high above the city. The road leading up is fairly narrow, steep and filled with cobble stones. We parked at the base of the hill and we made our way up. Yes, my little brother Scott included.

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There are many fascinating aspects of Edinburgh castle. One of my favourites is the one o'clock gun. Every day at 1pm since 1861, the Edinburgh Gun sounds from the clifftop. It began as a signal for incoming ship's crew to set their chronometers in Leith Harbour. I guess over time, it just became a tradition. I will be posting an in-depth blog about Edinburgh Castle in the future.

One o'clock gun

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The tragic tale of Mary Queen of Scots, she might be the most famous aspect of the castle. The fact that this was her home and where she gave birth to James VI, the first King to ever rule over both Scotland and England. He was the beginning of Scotland and England's long road to peace and unity. She spent most of her life envious of her half sister Queen Elizabeth the first. In the end it was her unrelenting pursuit of Elizabeth's throne that lead to her execution. Her legacy lived on in ways she could have only dreamed of in life as it was her blood line that lived on. Queen Elizabeth the first, known as the virgin queen, never gave birth to an heir.

Mary Queen of Scots with her son James VI

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After an absolutely amazing time in Edinburgh, it was time for us to move on to our next adventure. As I have spent most of my life living in hot countries like Singapore and Australia, I had never experienced snow. I was determined to keep driving until I found snow and could have a snow ball fight with my family. It was already freezing as it was the middle of winter so I knew if I kept driving north, I would eventually hit snow. I was delighted when it started snowing as I was driving north. I even rolled down the windows of the car, I was so excited. I had to roll the windows back up pretty quickly as the car had heated seats and I didn't want to ruin them. Little did we know that it wasn't just a bit of snow, we were about to be caught up in our first blizzard. I pulled into the first stop we found and yes you guessed it, we had a family snow ball fight. Even to this day, this is one of my fondest memories.

My first time in the snow with Ruby(Chihuahua)

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Of course a trip to Scotland is not complete without a visit to Loch Ness. I have always been fascinated by dinosaurs, so much so that I wanted to become a Paleontologist. Loch Ness is a very large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish highlands famously home to "Nessie" the loch ness monster. Now I know that to most, Nessie is just a legend. I like to believe that there is some truth behind the tale. The loch is so vast, open and deep that when you are sailing across it, it almost feels as though you are on the sea. I mean, I lived at sea for about 4 years and these loch waters are choppy. Again, I will be delving into more detail about the legend behind "Nessie" in a future blog.

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To finish off our trip to Scotland for the New Year, their Hogmanay. We enjoyed a lovely family dinner. Family is incredibly important and precious. We never know how long we may have with our loved ones so I recommend travelling as far and wide as possible together. I have travelled on my own, with friends and with my family. Travelling is a passion of mine that is luckily shared by my family. Wherever you may be reading this from, I hope you get to plan some wonderful family trips soon. Until then stay safe.

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I hope you have enjoyed my blog on Hogmanay, Scotland's New Year, thank you for reading, I look forward to sharing more adventures with you, until next time, Vegoutt Everybody!

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2011? How come you look the same in all your posts, you don´t age! :D Awesome travel report with a lot of cool shots as always ;)

Aw thank you so much, I’m 30 now and I haven’t really changed much in what I look like since I was 20 so I’ll take it while I can. Thank you for reading.

Fabulous photo journal!

Great post. Congrats!

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Awesome post and shot's, Congrats, Thanks for sharing.

Thank you for reading

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Thank you so much, that’s so great. I appreciate the support

Wow, it looks like you had an amazing time. I've never been to those places before. It looks fantastic.

Thank you, I did have an amazing time. Scotland is beautiful, I hope you get to visit someday. Thank you for reading.