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Sunday, 4 December 2011

The A to Z of Christmas

The A to Z of Christmas is now well underway over at Don't forget to check it out every day (of the working week) for the next update.

In the meantime, if you've not checked it out already, here's what you've missed so far.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Happy Saint Andrew's Day!

Today, 30 November, is St Andrew's Day!

Although today Andrew is regarded as a good Scottish name, it originated, along with Scotland's patron saint, in the Holy Land. Saint Andrew (who died circa AD 60) started out in life as a fisherman. His home was at Capernaum, a settlement on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and he was the brother of Simon Peter.

Andrew was actually a disciple of John the Baptist before he became a follower of Christ, but nonetheless, in all four of the Gospels he is listed as being among the first four of Jesus’ apostles. He gets a special mention in the Bible for the part he played in the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:15-21) and also in the matter of the Greeks who wished to meet with Jesus (John 12:20-2).

Despite being such an important figure in the New Testament, scholars are not sure where he preached the Gospel (both Scythia and Epirus in Greece claimed him as their apostle), where he died or even where he was buried. However, the manner of his death is very well-documented.

According to tradition Patras in Achaia (in modern-day Greece) is said to be the place where Andrew was put to death as a martyr. He was reputedly crucified on an X-shaped cross, preaching to the people there for two days before he finally succumbed and died.

From the sixth century, his feast day of 30 November was universally recognised and celebrated. Churches were dedicated to him from early times in Italy, France and Anglo-Saxon England, where the earliest of which was in Rochester, in the county of Kent, the Garden of England.

Like most saints, a number of legends that have grown up about his life and holy work. One of these, regarding a journey to Ethiopia, is told in the Old English poem Andreas. But none of this explains how he came to be the patron saint of Scotland.

He was actually adopted as patron by a Pictish king called Angus, who was supposed to have seen a vision, when an image of the cross appeared in the heavens during a decisive battle. The saint’s relics were brought from Patras all the way to Fife by Saint Regulus, where he stopped at the place that now bears the saint’s name, the church at Kilrymont becoming the cathedral of St Andrews.

You can learn more about Saint Andrew and the Scottish city of St Andrews (along with its world famous university) in Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation is at Portrack House, near Dumfries in South West Scotland and is a private garden created by Charles Jencks. To read more about this story, click here.

Viking boat burial discovered in Scotland

Great Britain’s first fully intact Viking boat burial site has been discovered by archaeologists working in northwest Scotland.

The 5 metre-long grave contained the remains of a high status Viking, who was buried with an axe, a sword with a beautifully decorated hilt, a spear, shield boss and bronze ring-pin. The Viking had been buried in a ship, whose 200 or so metal rivets were also found by the team.

To read more about this story, click here.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Anti-terrorism laws gone mad?

A security guard in Braehead shopping centre near Glasgow questioned a man who was taking pictures of his young daughter eating an ice-cream. The guard told him that photography in the mall was "illegal" and demanded that he delete any photos he'd taken while there. When the man told him he'd already posted the photos to Facebook, the guard summoned a policeman, who said that he could confiscate the phone under the UK's terrorism laws. The policeman took his details and "he was eventually allowed to leave."

To read more about this barmy story, click here.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Whisky wastewater powers Scottish distillery

William Grant & Sons — makers of the single malt libation Glenfiddich — will power one of its Scottish distilleries using an abundant, homegrown product: whisky wastewater.

This isn’t a new foray into alternative energy sources for the company. Over the past two years, William Grant has bought three Jenbacher gas engines from GE that operate on biogas created from the residual malt materials used in distillation to produce alcohol.

To read more about this story, follow this link.

You can find out more about Scottish whisky in Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave, written by Jonathan Green and published by Skyhorse Publishing.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Ciao, I'm from Glasgow!

A Glaswegian grandmother has started speaking with an Italian accent after suffering a stroke, despite never having visited the country.

Debbie McCann, 48, had a strong Glaswegian accent before the minor stroke in November last year. But in the weeks following her illness she lost the ability to speak at all only to regain a voice she didn't recognise as her own.

To read more about this bizarre story, click here.

Pax Britannia: Time's Arrow - Red-Handed is here!

Ulysses Quicksilver: agent of the throne, dandy and hero. Heart-broken, battered, mutilated and shot, he’s been driven backwards and forwards in time... but appearing in the middle of a crime scene is never the best way to start your visit to Paris...

Time’s Arrow offers the reader a unique opportunity – to decide the course of this latest Pax Britannia adventure!

In the tradition of Charles Dickens himself, Abaddon Books will be publishing Time’s Arrow in three ebook instalments. At the end of parts one (‘Red-Handed’) and two (‘Black Swan’) readers will be able to vote on how the adventure progresses via the Abaddon Books website at The entire text will then be published in a paperback edition in 2012.

Don’t miss out on the chance to become a part of publishing history. Pre-order Pax Britannia: Time’s Arrow today!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Queen seeks gardener for Scottish home

Queen Elizabeth II is searching for a chief gardener to keep things green around Balmoral Castle, the Scottish home of the royal family since 1852. In a help wanted ad on the Balmoral website, the royals said they sought an experienced gardener "capable of meeting the high standards at this important property."

If you think you could be up to the job, you can read more here.

Can that a Scottish Castle?

A Scottish castle overlooking the mountains of Denver is on sale for $8.7 million. The 14,483-square foot home has has six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, stunning wood work throughout, a great view of the Colorado mountains and a small waterfall in the backyard. The house is called "A Scottish Castle" and the only thing it's missing is the moat.

But that's not what I call a Scottish castle - not by a long shot.

Now this is a Scottish Castle, and you can even stay in it!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Future Games Contest Comes to Dundee

One of the biggest video games festivals of Scotland, Future Games Contest, has come to Dundee this year.

The competition will result in three winning teams to be announced on Sunday. The teams will be sent across for nominations at Bafta One To Watch awards this year.

According to BBC, Future Games Contest, a festival organised by IC Tomorrow, a program run by Technology Strategy Board in collaboration with Abertay University has been launched which will end up with an international level video game design competition. The festival which will run for three days is expected to be visited by thousands of people.

Read more about this story here.

Oil Spill in the North Sea

Royal Dutch Shell estimated Monday that 54,600 gallons of oil had spilled into the North Sea from an oil rig off Scotland’s eastern coast. The Gannet Alpha rig, 112 miles east of Aberdeen, is operated by Shell and co-owned by Shell and Esso, a subsidiary of the American company Exxon Mobil. Glen Cayley, technical director of Shell’s European exploration and production activities, called the spill “significant,” but said he believed that waves would disperse the oil sheen and that the spill was not expected to reach the shore. It was not clear when the leak began last week.

Scottish students to study Scottish Studies

According to Scottish paper The Herald, all pupils in Scotland will be expected to learn a new school topic Scottish Studies, which explores the country’s history, literature, language and culture, a Government minister has said.

Dr Alasdair Allan, the SNP’s Minister for Learning and Skills, said he was “not interested” in creating a subject to which only some pupils had access. He also revealed that Scottish Studies – first unveiled in the SNP’s 2011 election manifesto – would result in an externally marked exam in secondary school.

Silly moo!

An animal charity has rescued a bullock in South Ayrshire which got its head stuck in a ladder.

To read more about this story, click here.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Win tickets to the Scottish Festival!

Show us your Scottish pride… upload your photo of you wearing kilts, playing a bagpipe, eating haggis, golfing, etc.

Winging It! Prizes courtesy of the Scottish Festival include:

- One (1) winner to receive prize pack with a pair of tickets to the Scottish Festival,
- Coupon for a free souvenir program,
- Parking pass, and
- Free t-shirt coupon.

Two (2) runner-up winners to each receive a pair of tickets to the Scottish Festival.

Register for contest and upload your photo.

Enter contest by August 18th.

Watch Winging It Buffalo Style on Friday, August 19th, to see if you are a winner!

Amherst Museum Scottish Festival & Highland Games
9am – 5pm, Saturday August 20th

Find out more about the Scottish Festival:

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Renovation restores Victorian glory to Scottish museum

The National Museum of Scotland reopened to the public on Friday, 29 July 2011, after a 47-million-pound renovation that has restored its Victorian glory while giving it a spectacular boost into the 21st century.

To read more about this story, click here.

Monday, 25 July 2011

What makes Scotland so Bonnie anyway?

Everyone's used to referring to Scotland - that land north of the border - as Bonnie Scotland, but why?

Like so much of Scottish culture, the person most frequently credited/blamed for inventing the whole notion of Bonnie Scotland is Sir Walter Scott, author of Rob Roy. Scott was the first English-language author to have a truly international career in his lifetime, with many contemporary readers in Europe, Australia, and North America.

Bonnie Scotland is also the name of a 1935 American film starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, produced by Hal Roach and directed by James W. Horne. Although the film begins in Scotland, a large part of the action is actually set in British India.

The song Bonnie Scotland was written for and dedicated to all Scots wherever in the world they may be found. It is performed by ‘Tapsalteerie’ a wee group of friends of Saskia and India from Gourock. They are Rosie, Jennifer, Fiona, Emma, Jack and Fergus. You can find out more about them here.

You can find out more about Sir Walter Scott and his legacy to the Scots people in Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Happy Independence Day! (Part 2)

Talking of American Independence Day...

Did you know that nine governors of the original thirteen American states were Scots? Senate Resolution 155, passed on 20 March 1998, referred to the predominance of Scots among the Founding Fathers and claimed that the American Declaration of Independence was modelled on the Declaration of Arbroath, an eloquent appeal for the recognition of Scottish independence and sovereignty, signed on 6 April 1320.

You'll discover more fabulous facts like these in Scottish Misecellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave, available from Skyhorse Publishing today!

Happy Independence Day!

It's 4 July so that means that in America it's


As American fans of my books are hopefully already aware a number of my titles are available in American editions. There's Christmas Miscellany and Scottish Miscellany (both available from Skyhorse Publishing) but then there are also my Pax Britannia books and of course Black Library's Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 novels sell widely in the US.

So why not celebrate Independence Day today by picking up your favourite Jonathan Green US edition - and then let me know what you think of it!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Brad Pitt to film Zombie Epic in Scotland

Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt is heading to Scotland to film a new £80million zombie movie. Producers are going to transform parts of Glasgow into a war-torn ruin for blockbuster World War Z. The movie will be one of the biggest film shoots ever seen in Scotland.

Scenes being shot in the city centre will feature explosions and gunfire as Brad (47) battles to stop zombies taking over the world, with Glasgow doubling for the US city of Philadelphia. Streets around George Square will be closed in August as shooting begins and the square itself will be the base for the film crew and actors.

Producers plan to erect a tented village, complete with huge trailers for Brad and his co-stars.
Sources say he will spend two weeks shooting in Glasgow but it is not clear if his superstar wife Angelina Jolie and their six children will tag along.

To read more about this story, click here.

* Although it they wait until after kicking out time at the pubs and clubs on a Saturday night they won't need to bother.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

See Scotland on a budget

As the birthplace of golf and home to some of the world's finest whiskey, Scotland is on the life list of many travelers. So how do you see the sights and still stay on budget? Follow this link to discover several savvy savings tips for an affordable Scottish getaway.

Scotland to leave the UK?

Last month a "political tsunami" struck the United Kingdom and this once-mighty state faces being broken up.

An astonishing victory for nationalists in the Scottish parliamentary elections means it is almost certain that a referendum will be held within five years on whether Scotland should leave the U.K. and become an independent country.

To find out more about this incredible story, follow this link.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Headteacher flashdance

Teachers at Bell Baxter High School in Cupar shocked pupils by breaking into an impromptu dance routine in the school canteen, as you can see here in this news report.

The flash mob was led by the rector Phil Black and the event was watched by over 600 people. Senior pupils were about to go on exam leave and the teaching staff wanted to give them something to smile about before the hard work begins.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Which country is best for your health?

Health experts in the UK have been looking at how health politics and policies differ in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. And for patients, Scotland presents a more favourable climate than England.

To find out more, follow this link.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Drunk With Power?

The famous Speyside region of Scotland is home to half of the country's 100 distilleries. They supply Scotland (and the rest of the world) with great whisky, of course, but that distilling process also results in lots of spent grains.

Now that byproduct of the whisky-making process is going to keep the lights on as well, thanks to a new biomass plant in the village of Rothes that just got the go-ahead.

To read more about this story, click here.

You can learn more about whisky and its importance to the Scottish people in Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Happy Saint George's Day!

As well as being Shakespeare's birthday (and, we're reliably informed, his death day), it's the day on which all English honour their patron saint George the Dragonslayer - or not. Saint George's Day certainly doesn't get the same level of recognition that, say, Saint Andrew's Day does in Scotland and America, or Saint Patrick's Day does pretty much anywhere. I mean Google has recently created new logos to celebrate the first man in space and Trevithick's steam engine, but what have they got up today?

I can't help thinking that they missed a great opportunity there. The start of the word could have been Saint George on his horse and the end forming the body of the dragon. But then I'm patriotic, a monarchist, and an Englishman through and through. Besides, I love the story of Saint George. I mean, dragons, knights... what's there not to love about the story for a fantasy writer?

And the true story of the man we now know as George the Dragonslayer is, if anything, even more incredible and certainly much more gruesome. For example, did you know that George (who was a native of Libya, not England) was forced to endured various torture sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords (during which he was resuscitated three times) before finally being executed by decapitation?

Now I don’t know about you, but for me, the definitive dramatisation of the Robin Hood story is Robin of Sherwood, created by Richard Carpenter in the 1980s. (Yes, this is still a post about Saint George. Just hang on in there and all will become clear in a moment.)

In one of the episodes from the second series, entitled Lord of the Trees, Robin and his merry men act out part of a mummer’s play, in order to capture a band of dangerous mercenaries. (They can’t simply kill them because it’s the Time of the Blessing, an annual forest tradition during which no blood can be shed, or the pagan fertility ritual will fail.)

Some years ago now, I wrote a play about the origins of Christmas (funnily enough) for the school I was working in at the time. For one scene I wanted a simple mummers’ play. I returned to Robin of Sherwood for inspiration and have to admit that I used Richard Carpenter’s creation from the Lord of the Trees episode. However, in the TV story, the play isn’t actually completed, so I had to write the end of it in the same style as the rest.

Presented here are my efforts, combined with those of Richard Carpenter, of course. If you’ve thought about putting on your own mummers’ play this year, why not use this one? Just let me know how you get on!

A Mummers’ Play
By Richard Carpenter and Jonathan Green

Cast of Characters

Saint George’s MOTHER
A mysterious DOCTOR

Enter the Mummers.

In comes I, Saint George is my name.
With my great sword, I mean to win this game.
If I could meet the Saracen Knight here,
I’d fight him and bit him, and stick my sword in his ear.

Then in comes I, the Saracen Knight.
I come from the farthest lands to fight.
I’ve come to fight Saint George the Bold,
And if his blood runs hot, I’ll make it cold.

Battle to battle, to you I call,
To see who on this ground shall fall.

Battle to battle, to thee I pray,
To see who on this ground shall lay.

They fight. Saint George is slain.

O Doctor, Doctor! Where can a doctor be,
To cure my son who lies like a fallen tree?

In comes I, a doctor good,
And with his hand shall stop the scarlet blood.

How will you cure him? With potions and pills?

With this bag I can cure all ills –
The itch, stitch, palsy and gout –
Pains within and pains without.

The Doctor shakes his bag over Saint George’s body.

Rise up!

Saint George gets up.

Once I was dead and now I am alive!
Blessed be the Doctor, who did me revive!

What’s this? I thought I struck you dead!
I chopped and I lopped, and I hit you on the head.

Once I was dead but now I’m all right,
And now I’ll slay you, the Saracen Knight!

I have shed your blood before,
And now I’ll have to spill some more.
Battle to battle, to you I call,
To see who on this ground shall fall.

Battle to battle, to thee I pray,
To see who on this ground shall lay.

They fight again. The Saracen Knight is slain.
Behold! The Saracen Knight lies dead,
The ground now with his blood turned red.
Remember me, Saint George is my name!
With my great sword, I have won this game.
He will not fight another day.
And so now ends our Mummers’ play.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

How much do you really know about Scotland the Brave?

Perhaps you're here because you've already bought and read Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave or maybe you've just stumbled across this site because you have an interest in Scottish culture. But whatever the reason, how much do you really know about Scotland the Brave?

To test your knowledge of all things Scottish, why not try out this fun Scottish quiz?

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Scotland Week

Scotland Week is in full swing in America at the moment. It runs from April 3 – 10, and is a week long celebration of all things Scottish in the USA and Canada, with Tartan Day happening on April 6. It is a tribute to the 4.9 million Americans who claim Scottish heritage, and kicked off, this year, with the celeb-studded "Dressed to Kilt" fund-raiser at the Hammerstein Ballroom on April 5. The celebration of Caledonian culture, fabric, art, music, whisky and, most notably, fashion, was hosted by Sean Connery and featured many famed Scots.

Additionally, throughout Scotland Week, a pop-up shop showcasing hot trends from Scottish designers will be open at 939 Madison Ave.

But it will be “Braveheart” meets the hills of Central Park on April 10 as hordes of tartan-wearing runners take part in the eighth annual Scotland Run, which forms the finale to Scotland Week. The war paint and swords will be replaced by bagpipers, kilts and drums as they lead the charge for the 10K run through Central Park, which kicks off at 9 a.m. and serves as a qualifier for the ING New York City Marathon.

This year's event also will include a Scottish festival at Mineral Springs, featuring live music from Scottish band Skerryvore; smoothie bikes, a nod to Scotland's renewable energy credentials that allows participants to power their own blended smoothie, and traditional Scottish dancers performing Gaelic dances.

Other events worth exploring this week include:

* The U.S. premiere of award-winning Scottish playwright Douglas Maxwell's production, "The Promise," at the 59E59 Theater. The play, which runs through April 17, features one of Scotland's most well-known actresses, Joanna Tope, in the lead role.

* The Tartan Day Parade, on April 9 - yes, that's today! - brings together pipers, drummers and members of Scottish organizations and clans from across North America for a march down the Avenue of the Americas.

* The city's handful of Scottish restaurants will be running specials for those looking to get a taste of the highlands. For example, St. Andrews Restaurant & Bar will be running Scotch and Scottish fare pairings throughout the week. Also, Highlands, a Scottish gastro-pub, and Mary Queen of Scots, provide a taste of modern-day Scotland.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Forum giveaway

How would you like to own these four books, all signed by the author - for nothing?

Well, it's easy. All you have to do is register as a member of my new forum here and when we hit 50 members, I'll put everyone's names into a hat and pull out one winner.

That winner will then receive a copy of Howl of the Werewolf, the new edition of Curse of the Mummy, Pax Britannia: Dark Side and the Warhammer 40K short story anthology Victories of the Space Marines, which contains my Imperial Fists' story But Dust in the Wind. And I'll sign them all too.

So what are you waiting for? Don't delay, sign up today!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Ask me anything*

Following in the footsteps of some of my other writer acquaintances, I'm going to record a Vlog in which I answer all** your questions about my books and my experiences of writing them.

Got a question about the world of Pax Britannia? Curious as to how to go about writing a gamebook? Wondering what it takes to write a Doctor Who tie-in? Then ask away.

You can post your questions at the end of this post or email me at Alternatively you can contact me via Facebook or Twitter @jonathangreen.

So, ask away, and when I've collated enough questions I'll answer them in my next Vlog.

* Well, almost anything.

** Okay, maybe not all, but most.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Golf vs Whisky

We borrowed golf from Scotland as we borrowed whiskey. Not because it is Scottish, but because it is good.

~ Horace Hutchinson

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Thinking of visiting Scotland?

Then don't be put off by this...

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Did ye ken...?

After Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus, Robert Burns has more statues dedicated to him around the world than any other non-religious figure.

You can find out more about Burns and the impact of his life on Scottish culture in Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave, by Jonathan Green.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Happy Burns Night!

On 25 January, Scots all over the world gather together to honour the short, yet prolific, career of their national poet, Robert Burns, because 25 January is his birthday. Also known as the Ploughman Poet (because amongst other jobs he held, he had once worked as a ploughman) Burns was, and still is, Scotland’s favourite poet. This is mainly due to the fact that he wrote in the same way that Scottish people spoke. He came from a humble background, but his natural talent was to make him a national hero.

Burns’ poetry was inspired by the stories his mother’s old maid told him when he was a child. Indeed, the poet is quoted as saying, ‘She had the largest collection in the county of tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, kelpies, elf-candles, wraiths, giants, enchanted towers, dragons and other nonsense. From this grew the seeds of my poetry.’

Burns’ Suppers, which form the focus of Burns’ Night celebrations, can be either casual affairs or something much more formal. However, whatever they’re nature, the basic format varies very little. On arriving guests should be offered a drink (usually whisky) and once they are all seated at table, the chairman makes his welcome. This is followed by the Selkirk Grace and then the banquet begins.

The Selkirk Grace

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit.

Burns’ Supper Menu

Cock-a-Leekie Soup
Cullen Skink

Haggis, Neeps and Champit Tatties

Sherry Trifle

After the first course has been cleared away, the haggis will be piped in – the chef carrying it to the table, accompanied by a piper playing a stirring Scottish tune – and the chairman, or another esteemed guest, will give the Address to the Haggis. Reciting the words of Burns’ poem with gusto, the speaker plunges a knife into the haggis at the words:

‘An’ cut you up wi’ ready slight
Trenching your gushing entrails bright
Like onie ditch.’

The address over, the guests toast the haggis, and the health of the poet, with a wee dram of whisky, naturally. When the meal is finished, the chairman (or esteemed guest) makes the first speech – The Immortal Memory – which pays tribute to the life and work of Robert Burns. This is followed by the Toast to the Lasses and is a light-hearted tribute to all the ladies present that should be humorous, but never unkind. An elected female member of the party then gives The Lasses Response. The formalities over, the rest of the night is spent enjoying the songs and poems of Burns, as performed by the guests themselves.

And if you're celebrating Burns' Night tonight, have a good one!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Three Men Go to Scotland

Griff Rhys-Jones, Rory McGrath and Dara O Briain head to the Hebrides for another adventure on the high seas.

And you can watch their adventures for yourself here.

Visit Scotland - this winter

Monday, 10 January 2011

New Forum Added

If you're a regular follower of this blog, or new to the site today, I know what you're probably thinking right about now, and that is, "Where can I chat with other like-minded individuals about the works of author Jonathan Green?"

Well, have no fear, for you can now visit the official Jonathan Green, Author forum by clicking on this link (or the one in the sidebar to the right).

As well as discussing everything from Scottish Miscellany to the latest Skyhorse release, over on the forum you'll also find news on event appearances and book signings. There will also be exclusive competitions for forum members from time to time, so why not register today? It only takes a minute and doesn't cost a thing.

Maybe I'll see you over there some time soon.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy Hogmanay!

Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year. It is, however, normally only the start of a celebration which lasts through the night until the morning of New Year's Day (1 January) or, in some cases, 2 January which is also a Scottish Bank Holiday.

The etymology of the word is obscure. It may have been introduced to Middle Scots through the Auld Alliance. In 1604 the custom was mentioned in the Elgin Records as hagmonay. The most satisfactory explanation is a derivation from the Northern French dialect word hoguinané, or variants such as hoginane, hoginono and hoguinettes, those being derived from 16th century Old French aguillanneuf meaning either a gift given at New Year, a children's cry for such a gift, or New Year's Eve itself. The second element would appear to be l'an neuf i.e. the New Year.

The roots of Hogmanay perhaps reach back to the celebration of the winter solstice among the Norse, as well as incorporating customs from the Gaelic New Year's celebration of Samhain. In Rome, winter solstice evolved into the ancient celebration of Saturnalia where people celebrated completely free of restraint and inhibition. The Vikings celebrated Yule, which later contributed to the Twelve Days of Christmas, or the "Daft Days" as they were sometimes called in Scotland. The winter festival went underground with the Protestant Reformation and ensuing years, but re-emerged near the end of the 17th century.

There are many customs, both national and local, associated with Hogmanay. The most widespread national custom is the practice of 'first-footing' which starts immediately after midnight. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour and often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as salt, coal, shortbread, whisky, and black bun (a rich fruit cake) intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. Food and drink are then given to the guests. This may go on throughout the early hours of the morning and well into the next day. The first-foot is supposed to set the luck for the rest of the year.

The Hogmanay custom of singing "Auld Lang Syne" has become common in many countries. "Auld Lang Syne" is a traditional poem reinterpreted by Robert Burns, which was later set to music. It is now common for this to be sung in a circle of linked arms that are crossed over one another as the clock strikes midnight for New Year's Day, although it is only intended that participants link arms at the beginning of the final verse, coordinating with the lines of the song which contain the lyrics to do so. Typically it is only in Scotland this practice is carried out correctly.

When Ne'erday falls on a Sunday, January 3rd becomes an additional public holiday in Scotland; when Ne'erday falls on a Saturday, both January 3rd and January 4th will be public holidays in Scotland; when Ne'erday falls on a Friday, January 4th becomes an additional public holiday in Scotland.

As in much of the world, the largest Scottish cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen hold all-night celebrations, as does Stirling. The Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations are among the largest in the world, although in 2003-4 most of the organised events were cancelled at short notice due to very high winds. The Stonehaven Fireballs went ahead as planned, however, with some 6000 people braving the stormy weather to watch 42 fireball swingers process along the High Street.

Historically, presents were given in Scotland on the first Monday of the New Year. This would be celebrated often by the employer giving his staff presents and parents giving children presents. Handsel Day is marked by teachers giving gifts to their students. A roast dinner would be eaten to celebrate the festival. Handsel was a word for gift box and hence Handsel Day.