To-day in Scotland it's Hogmanay, which is not, as some might think, a drunken revelry (that comes later)
but is rather a time for reflection, and clearing the decks in readiness for the New Year. Bills paid, amends made, my mother would spend the day scouring the house and doing an enormous washing, for come the bells, there must not be a speck of dirt in the house. Just before midnight, even the ashes were raked from the grate. A window was opened, to let out the old year, then the front door, to let in the new. An uncle soon appeared, to ensure our "first foot" would be male, laden with food, drink and fuel, shortbread, whisky and coal.
Everything that happened at New Year was supposed to be symbolic of how the year would be and so much stress was placed on seeing in the bells at home with your loved ones that the English tradition of gathering in Trafalgar Square seemed very alien and not a little reckless. But times change and now Edinburgh has become so famous as party central that you have to buy a ticket for the Princes Street celebrations. From my house, I can see the shimmer of the fireworks and a moment later hear the "Crump!" Indeed, if I drove five minutes down the road I'd have a terrific view of Edinburgh Castle, but old habits die hard. Do I really want to be out on the streets come the bells? What would that presage?
Happy New Year!