Hogmanay in Days Gone By.

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Hogmanay in Days Gone By.

Post by Currie » Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:04 pm

From the Dundee Courier, Monday, Jan. 1, 1923.

GOOD-BYE, 1922

How Dundee Ushered In The New Year

Hogmanay made a strange Sabbath evening in Dundee. The sanctity of the day was almost entirely forgotten in the midst of the scenes round the centre of the city. It resembled a Saturday night, with a very big dash of hilarity about it. Crowds were out to enjoy themselves regardless of the hour or of the day.

The old year was thus squeezed out, and its bouncing successor, so chokeful of promise of amelioration, was welcomed as each new year is welcomed, with the aged cast aside quite disdainfully. We are glad to be rid of the old. There are few regrets.

A Beautiful Scene.

Such a spirit must, have been permeating the very big crowd that once again assembled under the shadow of the Town House. It was a beautiful scene, with the High Street bathed in the glorious rays of a perfect moonlit night. The old year, with its heartbreaking spasms of weather in the summer-time, was quite ironical with its parting gift of a magnificent day of crisp clear air, and—on the falling of darkness—with the twinkle of the stars from a cloudless sky. Nothing finer could have been seen. It was a picture of unsurpassed Hogmanay beauty.

But the assembly was mainly concentrated on more material affairs. It was “bringing in” the New Year in time-honoured fashion, and several hours before the bells and chimes rang out the old and rang in the new several hundreds were aimlessly wandering the central thoroughfare. They were waiting on the “zero” hour, and some of the younger section kept things very lively with their hilarious pranks.

A City of Parcels.

In the earlier part of the evening Dundee was a city of parcels. Everyone seemed in preparation for first-footing. To carry a parcel was the fashion of the hour. The majority of those folks gradually slipped away into the night bound for scenes further afield, but yet they left several hundreds still promenading, in their Sabbath attire, the heart of the city, a laughing, happy throng, though there were very few signs of particular “happiness” in the seasonable sense. For was it not Sunday?

But nevertheless there was plenty of the gaiety which made Sabbath forgotten. The younger generation were in great glee over the stir their crackling, fizzing, exploding squibs created. There was no end to that, though they might have quite reasonably keep clear with their fun from the outskirts of a religious gathering at the end of Bank Street. Every other minute the squibs were shooting out in some unexpected spot.

Red Herrings and Oranges.

While their bangs were rending the air amidst the laughter of the crowds there were other scenes that sustained the liveliness of the hours. All the old-time familiar vendors of Hogmanay goods were there with their raucous cries. The red herrings and the oranges were clustering together on the rows of lighted barrows—“All the lucky first futs,” they shrieked, and “All dressed up and nowhere to go.” If the humour of the hawkers was sometimes a bit pointed—well it was Hogmanay and nobody cared.

The police systematically patrolled these thoroughfares, but until midnight it was a simple case of patrolling. They had been much busier than usual on Saturday night with those who had been “looking on the wine when it was red,” and as a result twenty-seven woke up some time yesterday, finding themselves under lock and key. In the course of the day one solitary visitor came to the Central Police Office “under the influence” and under the custody of the police. He was one of the old brigade, an elderly frequenter, who will soon be recording his century in appearances at the Police Court.

But despite these Saturday night outbursts, if so they may be called, and all the rollicking joyousness of the streets during the few hours that marked the passing of another year Dundee may be said to have been on a really high standard of behaviour this Hogmanay and started the fresh lap with a fairly good record.

At Midnight.

Shortly before midnight a tremendous crowd—one of the largest seen in Dundee in recent years—had gathered in the vicinity of the Town House to welcome the New Year. Rockets and “starshells” shot up into the sky from all sides, and the air was thick with the fumes of fireworks, As the hands of the Town House clock approached the hour the noise of the huge multitude was subdued to a faint hum, and all eyes were turned towards the steeple. Then the chimes rang out, and a chorus of greetings echoed through the streets. As the last chime died away a cornet player in Reform Street struck up “Here's a guid New Year to ane and a’,” and the crowd joined heartily in the chorus, concluding with loud cheers. The inevitable “bottle” was produced on all sides, and the dense throng then dispersed, bands of merrymakers, laden with parcels, setting out in all directions on “first-footing” expeditions.


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Re: Hogmanay in Days Gone By.

Post by nelmit » Thu Jan 02, 2020 12:47 pm

Fabulous Alan. The language alone makes the article worth reading and really brings it to life.

Happy New Year [cheers] [Scotland drink] [bagpipe]

Best wishes,

Anne H
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Re: Hogmanay in Days Gone By.

Post by Anne H » Fri Jan 03, 2020 1:07 pm

Ahh, 'First Footing'!

Brings back memories of my Dad going out the back door with a lump of coal then a minute or so later the front door bell would ring and there was my Dad with a bottle. He was always our 'First Footer'. Happy memories.

Thanks Alan and Happy New Year! :D

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Re: Hogmanay in Days Gone By.

Post by Currie » Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:39 pm

Thanks Annette and Anne, and a Happy New Year to you and yours and all the rest. Here’s another Hogmanay story, this time from Aberdeen after four long years of war. The D.O.R.A. mentioned would be the Defence Of The Realm Act, which I think controlled rationing etc.

The Aberdeen Journal, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 1919.


“A Happy New Year!” There was more than the conventional in the time-honoured greeting this morning, as there will be to-day when friend meets friend. Everything went to make an atmosphere of sincere relief and hope. Each year with the war still raging had been ushered in with a restraint that was inevitable. To-day the feeling is different. The fighting is over, and Jack and Tommy and all concerned in their welfare—and who has not been?—have easier minds as to the future. The Hogmanay spirit last night reflected that. But all day the festive mood had been apparent, for although the most of the works did not close for the remainder of the week until the dinner hour, the streets had an animated appearance from morning onwards. Service men, naval and military, almost seemed to predominate, in the crowds, so numerous were they, and if some of them were amongst the most hilarious who could blame them?

The weather was seasonable, being cold and dry, with a frost keen enough to make the outlying streets slippery to the danger point. Shopping was heavy in Yule-tide fare. Grocers and bakers, and, to a less degree, butchers, did good business. Some—licensed grocers, for instance—would have done even better had their stock-in-trade been equal to anything like the demand. There is a famine in liquors of the more potent and more popular sort. Whisky can hardly be got. Some licence holders had notices that they did not have it, and others rationed it to their regular customers only. There was a rush for it where it was to be had, and at several premises, both on Monday and yesterday, queues
of men and women—principally men, and the majority of them in khaki or navy blue—formed up on the chance of getting “something in” for Hogmanay and the New Year. With supplies so scarce, publicans were chary of opening their premises for the evening hours, and a few who ventured to do so took an early opportunity to close and so avoid a “rush” which might have had inconvenient, not to say dangerous, consequences. The full measure of “prohibition” will be carried out to-day.


If hilarious and noisy, it was essentially a sober crowd that made a point of welcoming in 1919. Youths paraded the streets playing melodeons or mouth-organs and singing war or pantomime songs. Soldiers and sailors, with many colonials and Americans besides our own. let themselves go vocally too. Arm in arm with members of the fair sex, they and their silver-badged comrades struck a joyous keynote for the occasion which was good to see after recent Hogmanays. Fruiterers and other shopkeepers kept open as long as the throng was about, and a “roaring” trade was done at the stalls in Castle Street. Oranges and grapes, both much cheaper than they promised a fortnight ago, were practically the only fruit on show. Tramcars on all the city routes, and from and to the suburbs, were running, each a blaze of light. With the well-lit streets, the illuminated clock faces at the Town House and the St Nicholas Tower, and the chimes of St Nicholas, they reminded the crowd of D.O.R.A. and all that D.O.R.A. signified, and the return to “the good old days” The public clocks enabled the watchers to time the dying of the old year and the birth of the new as they had not done for four years. The gathering at the Castlegate at midnight was smaller and very much quieter than was expected; but the crowd seemed to spread itself out more than usual, and Union Street and other central thoroughfares were lively. As the last stroke of twelve died away cheers were raised and the compliments of the season exchanged.

Big Victoria boomed forth from St Nicholas and the trawlers and other craft shrieked and whistled in fiendish-like glee. The bellringers chimed with merry effect, and broke successfully into “A Guid New Year,” “Auld Lang Syne,” “Rule Britannia,” and the National Anthem. First-footers went off on their rounds of visiting, while bands of youths and young women betook themselves homewards singing as they went. There were not many bottles agoing, but there were armfuls of other gifts, and not a few carried with them an old-fashioned ensurer of good luck in the shape of an old herring.

All the best,

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