HOGMANAY (December 31)
In Scotland, the term used for the New Year's celebration is 'Hogmanay', and it can last up until January 2 (which is usually considered a bank holiday). In some parts of England and in Scotland, it is considered good luck if a man is the first person to enter a friend's home on New Year's Day (tall, dark-haired men are preferred), and bad luck if a woman is the first. This is known as 'First Footing', and the friend that enters usually gives a small ceremonial gift such as salt (less common today), coal, shortbread, whisky and black bun (a rich fruit cake), intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder. This may go on throughout the early hours of the morning and well into the next day (although modern days see people visiting houses well into the middle of January).
A well known Hogmanay custom is singing 'Auld Lang Syne', which has become common in many countries. 'Auld Lang Syne' is a Scots poem by Robert Burns, based on traditional and other earlier sources. It is now common to sing this in a circle of linked arms that are crossed over one another as the clock strikes midnight for New Year's Day, though it is only intended that participants link arms at the beginning of the final verse, co-ordinating with the lines of the song that contain the lyrics to do so.