Feature article by Nancy (Sinclair) Neill from Litir à Clann
(Family Newsletter), Volume 2 Number 2 (November 1988), edited by
R.M. "Mac" Sinclair of Kingston, Ontario. Sadly, this article,
with suggestions and recipes for a Hogmanay party, was Nancy's last.
Major celebrations for the Scots occur during the winter months and include:
Saint Andrew's Day - As near to November 30th
as is practicable, a celebration of the Patron Saint for Scotland.
Christmas - December 25th, only during the last
200-300 years has this celebration of the birth of Christ become
a day of Public celebration.
[ In Scotland, Christmas Day was not a statutory holiday until
the 1950s. ]
Hogmanay - December 31st, a New Year's Eve celebration
known to last into the wee hours of January 1st.
Robbie Burns Night - As near to January 25th (Burns's
birthdate) as practicable, a celebration of the Bard of Scotland.
The "magic moment"
The "magic moment" of the year is the last stroke of midnight
on the last day of the year; and it is a time for everyone to be up and
about, wishing each other well.
With this in mind, here is some background
information, recipe ideas, tips and suggestions which might entice you,
your clan members, Scottish friends and family into having a "Hogmanay
Party" this New Year's Eve, for a change. Enjoy!!!
The "First Foot" is the first person to cross the threshold
of your home immediately after midnight, i.e. in the New Year. He, for
it has to be a man, should also be tall and dark. He must carry with him
a lump of coal or peat, to start the new year's fire, and a full bottle
of whisky (Scotch, of course).
In Scotland, many tall dark men make a practise of going from house
to house as a "first footer". He must be properly prepared
for the job, or things might go awry... Your "first footer"
should be arranged for when planning your Hogmanay party; and he might even
be invited to bring his own "tokens of warmth and good cheer".
Hopefully, your "first footer" will be a welcome guest and will
join in the spirit(s) of the party.
Food and drink suggestions
3 oz. oatmeal
2 tbsp. liquid heather honey
1 pint water
Add water to oatmeal until a medium paste is formed. Leave stand
for ½ hour and then pass through a fine strainer, pressing
mixture against strainer with a wooden spoon. Discard the meal.
Mix the creamy liquid with the honey. Stir and make up 2 pints
with Scotch. Cork and shake.
Serve alone or topped with whipped cream
sprinkled with fine, lightly toasted oatmeal.
½ oz. sweet vermouth
6-8 ice cubes
3 oz. Scotch Whisky
1 strip orange peel
Combine Scotch and vermouth in a mixing glass and fill with
ice cubes. Stir gently to chill and dilute the drink, then
pour through a strainer into a cocktail glass. Twist the orange
peel over rim of the glass.
(If using dry vermouth, use 1 tsp. and 3½ oz. Scotch.)
8 oz. pork sausage meat
1 tsp. mixed herbs
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
2 oz. browned breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. flour
fat for frying
salt and pepper
Hard boil 4 of the eggs....pour off this water and fill pan with
cold. When cooled, shell the eggs.
Season the flour and dust the eggs with it. Mix the herbs and parsley
into the sausage meat, and divide it into four. Cover each hard cooked
egg with sausage meat.
Lightly beat the uncooked egg....brush the Scots eggs with it and
roll them in breadcrumbs. Fry the Scots eggs in deep fat, turning
them occasionally, until they are golden brown...Drain on paper
Slice each Scots egg into 5 or 6 slices and serve on serving
plates as savouries.
Scottish Black Bun
Black Bun is a rich and delicious fruit cake formerly eaten on
Twelfth Night, but now served at Hogmanay. It should be made
a few weeks before it is wanted, like Christmas cake, so that
it can mature.
For the Casing
8 oz. (2 cups) flour
4 oz. (½ cup) butter
½ tsp. baking powder
about 4 tbsp. water
1 beaten egg for finishing
To make the Casing
Rub the butter into the flour, add baking powder and mix to a stiff paste
with water. Put on a floured board and roll to a thin sheet. Grease a loaf
tin 8 ins. square and line with the pastry, keeping back enough for the lid.
For the Filling
2 lbs. seedless raisins
3 lbs. currants
½ lb. chopped, blanched almonds
3 cups (scant) flour
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. Jamaica pepper (Allspice)
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 flat tsp. cream of tartar
1 flat tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. brandy
½ cup milk
Mix all the filling ingredients together, except the milk; add enough
milk to dampen the mixture.
Put it all into the casing lined tin and the pastry lid on top, damping
edges well to make it stick. Prick all over with a fork; with a thin
skewer, make four holes right down to the bottom of the cake.
Brush with the beaten egg.
Bake in a slow (225 deg.F) oven for about 3 hours.
It will keep for
a year in an airtight tin.
This is, perhaps, the most traditional of all foods eaten in Scotland
at Hogmanay. It is really a large, round sausage, the skin being the paunch
of a sheep. It is often served to the skirl of the bagpipes after being
given Burns's "Address To a Haggis"....the first verse of which
"Fair fa' your honest sonsie face
Great Chieftain o' the puddin'-race!
Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm;
Weel are ye worthy o' a Grace
As lang's my arm."
Here is Lady Logan's Recipe for making Haggis (circa 1856):
1 cleaned, sheep or lamb's stomach bag
2 lb. dry oatmeal
1 lb. chopped mutton suet
1 lb. lamb's or deer's liver, boiled and minced
1 pt. (2 cups) stock
the heart and lights of the sheep, boiled and minced
1 large chopped onion
½ tsp. each: cayenne pepper, Jamaica pepper,
salt and black pepper
Toast the oatmeal slowly until crisp; mix all ingredients
(except the stomach) together...add stock. Fill the bag
a bit more than half full, press out the air and sew up
securely....Have ready a large pot of boiling water....prick
the Haggis all over with a large needle, so that it does not
burst, boil slowly for 4 to 5 hours......
It is often served with "Clapshot". (Serves about 12.)
1 lb. potatoes
1 tbsp. chopped chives or shallots
1 lb. white turnips
1 heaped tbsp. butter or dripping
salt and pepper to taste
Cook the vegetables separately; drain, then mash them very well
together, adding all the other ingredients. Season to taste.
Serve very hot.
(Great with a large dollop of butter.)
In preparing this article I have, of course, used a number of Scottish
cook-books such as A Taste of Scotland by Theodora Fitzgibbon
and Brose 'n Butter from the Rob Roy Pipe Band & Highland
Dancers. My thanks to them.
The name Hogmanay is thought by some to have come from the old French
aguil'anneuf through Norman hoguigané:
"to the New Year".
I hope your Hogmanay party is lots of good fun!!
While Nancy's article has dealt with Hogmanay as a specific, it would be
quite incorrect to infer that the Scots put Christmas (or any other religious
festival) in a subordinate position. Indeed, the Scots have always maintained
a healthy respect for the Lord and paying "proper respect" by
observing Holy Days has been a large part of their lives.
At this time of the year, we can look back upon those moments when our family
ceilidhs brought great happiness to our lives; and we can plan that we will
not miss any opportunities for similar celebrations in the future. For family
love and respect is a great Scottish tradition and comes straight from the
If I, as the editor of this Litir à Clann (Family Newsletter), may speak
for the entire Executive of the Association, I thank you for your support during
1988 and for your contributions for this Newsletter.....Please continue!!......May
your homes feel the presence of God's love at this Christmas time and throughout
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR
© Clan Sinclair Association Canada.
All rights reserved.
Maintained by email@example.com