Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year’s Eve, is the stepping stone between the old and the new and the most important holiday of the year in Scotland, with traditions dating back to the Druidical ceremony of gathering in the mistletoe. The actual derivation of the word “Hogmanay” is lost in antiquity. In ancient times, Guisers, or Mummers, produced plays, danced and sang in return for sweets, shortbread, oatcakes, black bun and currant loaf. The famous New Year’s Day parade in Philadelphia is a reminder of this tradition.
The Hogmanay bannock or oatcake, with a hole in the center, is flavored with caraway seeds and, as a reminder of its pagan origin, has notched edges symbolizing the rays of the sun. The black bun is a dark currant cake inside a pastry crust and is thought to be the original Twelfthcake associated with the twelve days of Christmas.
© 1966 Craig Claiborne estate. All rights reserved.