[ hog-muh-ney ]
/ ˌhɒg məˈneɪ /
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noun Scot.
the eve of New Year's Day.
(lowercase) a gift given on Hogmanay.
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Origin of Hogmanay

First recorded in 1670–80; origin uncertain
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is Hogmanay?

Hogmanay is the Scottish term for New Year’s Eve.

In Scotland, Hogmanay festivities often begin well before the day and in some places consist of several days of events, such as parades and nighttime processions, street parties, bonfires, and music and dance gatherings known as ceilidhs. For some, the celebration of Hogmanay rivals that of Christmas.

The holiday is associated with a number of customs, including the so-called first-foot traditions. In particular, according to Hogmanay tradition, a dark-haired man crossing the threshold of a house at midnight will bring good luck.

The word can also refer to a gift given on Hogmanay. When used in this sense, it’s often lowercase (hogmanay).

When is Hogmanay?

Hogmanay takes place on December 31—New Year’s Eve. In some places, they observe the day based on the Julian Calendar, celebrating it on January 11.

More information and context on Hogmanay

Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last night of the year. The origin of the word is uncertain, but it may come from the Norman French hoguinane, from Old French aguillanneuf, meaning “the last day of the year.”

The observance of Hogmanay has a long history in Scotland that goes back many centuries and is likely related to ancient celebrations of the winter solstice. Hogmanay is thought to have gained such popularity in Scotland due in part to the prohibition of the celebration of Christmas by Protestant leaders in the 1600s. Christmas didn’t become a public holiday in Scotland until the 1950s.

Like many New Year’s traditions, some Hogmanay traditions focus on being rid of the old year and welcoming the new, with activities such as cleaning the house or settling debts. One Hogmanay tradition used in New Year’s Eve celebrations outside of Scotland is singing the Scots folk song Auld Lang Syne.

What are some terms that often get used in discussing Hogmanay?

How is Hogmanay discussed in real life?

Hogmanay is celebrated in Scotland, but many of its traditions are similar to New Year’s Eve traditions in other places.

Try using Hogmanay!

True or False?

According to Hogmanay tradition, a dark-haired man crossing the threshold of a house at midnight will bring good luck.

How to use Hogmanay in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Hogmanay

/ (ˌhɒɡməˈneɪ) /

(sometimes not capital)
  1. New Year's Eve in Scotland
  2. (as modifier)a Hogmanay party See also first-foot

Word Origin for Hogmanay

C17: Scottish and Northern English, perhaps from Norman French hoguinane, from Old French aguillanneuf the last day of the year; also, a New Year's eve gift
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012