Some years ago, when the budget for the City’s New Year events was under particularly severe pressure, council officials met with me to recommend that the Loony Dook should be dropped from the programme as the money would be better spent on the main events in Edinburgh rather than a low-key event in South Queensferry on New Year’s Day.
I took a different view as I felt that it was a “quirky” event which could grow to become an integral part of our celebratory programme and with the support of Councillor Norman Work, the local SNP councillor, I informed the officials that appropriate funding should be identified and allocated to the Loony Dook to secure its future which, to their credit, they did. The rest, as they say, is history.
Reports of yesterday’s Dook appear elsewhere in this paper and given its growth in size and reputation it has featured in the press of other countries throughout the years, even being reported on with accompanying photographs as far afield as China. So as we start to “wind down” our celebrations this week, what of other countries that celebrate New Year in their own particular fashion?
People here collect all their unused crockery until on New Year’s Eve they go round to the houses of their friends and families and smash them against their front doors.
Similar events have also been witnessed in Scotland but it is usually followed up by a visit from the local constabulary.
New Year is celebrated by setting alight scarecrows filled with paper along with photographs taken over the last year which it is believed will bring good fortune.
Hibs supporters may wish to partake in this ritual by burning photographs of “the goal that never was” at the recent Tynecastle Park derby.
People ring all of their bells 108 times with the belief that it brings cleanliness and that if you are smiling going into the New Year it will bring good luck.
Hearts supporters will presumably still be smiling due to the event described above at Tynecastle Park.
There is a small Peruvian village where the people fist-fight to settle their differences so that they can wipe the slate clean as they start the New Year.
Villagers have been known to indulge in such squabbles over refereeing decisions. This activity may have manifested itself elsewhere for the same reason.
Some people carry their suitcases around with them all day hoping that they will have a travel-filled year.
In Scotland some men can be seen doing the same but having been “thrown oot” they are hoping that they can find a place to get their “heid doon”.
People climb on top of chairs and literally jump into the New Year.
In Scotland some people fall off chairs and literally fall into the New Year.
Families spend the night at the cemetery to be near their deceased loved ones.
In Scotland some people have also been known to spend the night in a cemetery as a result of a wrong turn after a night of celebration.
Old furniture is thrown out of the window in some parts of South Africa.
Same in Scotland.
In some South American countries the colour of your underwear may dictate your future in the New Year as the tradition has it that gold means wealth, red that you’ll find love and white signifies peace.
Kilt wearing Scots take note – that’s where you might have been getting it wrong all those years!
In Edinburgh we have the fabulous Street Party where people from all over the world, strangers and friends, congregate to celebrate the New Year.
All colours, creeds and religions greet each other warmly as they enjoy Edinburgh, the home of Hogmanay! It reminds us that humanity is good and that whatever befalls us in the coming year it will not shake the foundations of peace and tolerance that the vast majority of the world’s population embraces.