Firstly, a Guid (good) New Year tae yin and aw (to one and all) and I hope that 2013 brings you all love, luck and laughter in droves. For the first time ever, my wife and I left the UK and had Xmas in a warm country. We went to Dubai (see photos below) to spend Xmas with our son, daughter in law and 1 year old granddaughters Abigail and Lola. I thought that it might be strange for it to be 28 degrees on Xmas Day but we’d been there for 4 days and were accustomed to the heat (very pleasant) by then. Many people of my age whom I met in Australia told me of Xmases when they were children when the tradition was still to eat inside – with no air conditioning - in a house in which an oven had been on for hours roasting a turkey, and their mother – it was always the mother in those days – sweated buckets to produce the meal. My son Stuart is an excellent cook and although I’m not usually a turkey fan, I enjoyed his moist and tasty turkey – perhaps it was the 24 hour soaking in brine - a la Nigella Lawson - that did it. In the brine is water, salt and pepper, peppercorns, cinnamon, caraway seeds, allspice, star anise, mustard seeds, onion, ginger, maple syrup, honey, parsley and orange. Another key tip is to baste the turkey well while it cooks.
So, back to Scotland for New Year. In Dunbar, we have a very local expression Auld Year’s Day and Auld Year’s Night for what you probably call New Year’s Eve and what many people in Scotland call Hogmanay. On my poetry calendar for the 31st December, was an extract from Tennyson’s In Memoriam which included the lines:
Ring out the old, ring in the new,/Ring, happy bells, across the snow:/ The year is going, let him go;/ ring out the false, ring in the new
In Scotland, we talk about being home for The Bells i.e. the strike of midnight. Traditionally, you should clean your house, empty the ashes from your fire, and clear all your debts before The Bells. Oh aye, and as soon as the bells have struck, have a wee dram e.g. Bruichladdich. Cheers.