Hogmanay is the Scottish celebration of New Year's Eve and can last for days—no one celebrates the eve quite like the Scots! It is believed the Scots inherited the celebration of Hogmanay from the Vikings and their celebration of the shortest day of the year. But many believe that as Christmas was virtually banned and not celebrated in Scotland from the end of the 17th century until the 1950s, New Year's Eve was a good excuse for some revelry and a reason to drink whiskey and eat good food.
Many traditions surround the evening—including the centuries-old custom of First Footing—and Hogmanay involves parties and festivals across Scotland with the largest and most famous public party in Edinburgh—and traditional food and drink are a huge part of all of this.
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Savory Foods to Serve at Hogmanay
Hogmanay food includes all the traditional foods of Scotland, so expect to find hearty warm dishes as befits this time of year. Up at the top of this list is haggis, sheep organs mixed with oats and seasonings and boiled in a sheep's stomach. But there will also be other classics such as a cock-a-leekie soup (chicken soup) and hearty, substantial fare like venison pie with a side dish of either Rumbledethumps (potato and vegetable bake) or delicious traditional tatties and neeps (potatoes and turnips). All of these recipes are easy to make and will bring an authentic touch to your New Year's Eve celebrations.
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Classic Sweet Dishes to Serve at Hogmanay
For those with a sweet-tooth, shortbread (a buttery, crumbly cookie) is always present at Hogmanay and sometimes served with cheese. There will also most certainly be Scottish Cranachan—toasted oatmeal with Scottish raspberries and cream—or a tipsy laird trifle, which is similar to a classic British trifle but is doused in whiskey instead of sherry.
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When it comes to liquor in Scotland, it has to be whisky. Scotch whisky (which is spelled without the "e") is world-renowned and what better time to drink it than Hogmanay. Nobody knows exactly when the art of distilling was first practiced in Scotland, but belief is it was the Ancient Celts who first made whisky. The Celts call it uisge beatha—the water of life—which evolved into Scotch, a drink made only in Scotland but enjoyed around the world.
Of course, you can drink Scotch whisky neat (no ice or mixer), on the rocks (with ice), or as part of a cocktail, like an affinity, a Scotch Manhattan.
If beer is more your speed, there are plenty of Scotch and Scottish ales to choose from. The two are both dark beers but are quite distinct from each other in flavor.