Scotland is an ideal location to spend Christmas and New Year. The Scots are well known for their extravagant New Year’s Eve celebration, referred to up North as Hogmanay: needless to say it involve lots of dancing and even more whisky!
Edinburgh hosts Europe’s largest open-air ice rink, located in Princes Street Gardens. Many shops offer late-night shopping during December and the city also plays host to the German Christmas Market, which offers a range of gifts and Christmas decorations (think traditional nutcrackers and hand-crafted chocolates) as well as stands selling Gluhwein, the German equivalent to mulled wine.
The Scots are very passionate about Hogmanay. Edinburgh’s own is one of the biggest in the world, starting with a torchlight procession from The Royal Mile and ending at Carlton Hill with a grand fireworks display. The party gets started in the Princes Street where there is a concert held in the gardens with live music, DJ sets, dancing and open-air bars, and – course – some sensational fireworks at midnight.
Renting a self-catering house or apartment in Edinburgh via HomeAway gives you the ideal chance to buy some traditional Scottish food served at Hogmanay. Haggis is probably the most famous dish across the whole of Scotland, and it’s normally served with neaps and tatties (mashed potatoes and turnip or swede). Shortbread is always eaten and is sometimes served with cheese besides oatcakes (sounds a bit odd to me, but then we serve Wensleydale with Christmas cake here in Yorkshire!). Why not try making a traditional Cranachan? Ingredients include toasted oatmeal, Scottish raspberries and cream mixed with whisky, all layered up in a fancy glass.
Of course you can’t celebrate Hogmanay without the water of life. Haven’t got a clue? Don’t know your single malts from your blended? Why not go on a whisky tasting tour? As you can imagine, there are plenty to choose from. The Scottish Whisky Experience located along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile offers tours with tastings, and a shop with over 300 whiskies to choose from (time to stock up I think!). Glengoyne Distillery, located in Dumgoyne (not far from Glasgow) also offers various tasting tours including a chocolate and whisky tasting experience.
Of course, no Hogmanay celebration would be complete without some Scottish dancing; a quick online visit to Amazon for a DVD or book will have you doing the Gay Gordon in no time.
So you’ve tasted haggis and are still not sure what it’s made of, you’ve danced the night away (hopefully, without any injuries) and you’ve made a valuable contribution to the Scottish Whisky industry; now it’s the 1st January, and your limbs ache alongside your sore head! Did you know Scotland has its very own, home-grown, hangover cure? Irn Bru! Yes, Irn Bru is a fizzy, bright-orange drink that’s helped many a Scot’s head in the past, having been one of the country’s bestselling drinks since 1901.
Did you also know the “Hair of the Dog” principle for hangover cures was supposedly originally from Scotland? The theory is that a little bit of what is making you ill (the alcohol in question) can help the body to ease the pain. The Scottish would apparently heal dog bites by pulling the hair from the dog and placing it on the wound.
For a more traditional hangover cure, there are – of course – always a couple of paracetamol to take washed down with a cup of tea. And if you’re not feeling up to a full breakfast with potato scones, black pudding and lorne sausage, why not treat yourself to some scrambled eggs with some smoked salmon (Scottish, of course)?