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It used to be that Islay’s Gaelic choir hosted an Old New Year ceilidh in a local hotel, and good fun it was, too. Hasn’t happened for a few years, and hopefully will again as it’s a pity to let the old traditions go uncelebrated.
Bliadhna mhath ùr! Happy new year! No, you’re not going mad, for it is the 12th of January and thenew year; the old new year, that is. In Gaelic tradition, the New Year begins now,with candles lit in each window the night before to welcome in the new year. It’s not a tradition much observed any more, butI make a quiet note of it to myself each year. Oidhche Challain – Hogmanay – would see ceilidhs andfirst footing undertaken, tales told and songs sung. Different areas would have their own particular traditions to see out the old year;thisarticle mentions some Uist specialities.
As my dad always reminds me, it is from this point onwards in the year that each day lengthens by a cockerel’s step:’ceum coileach air an latha’. It’s a good thought to bear in mind when the weather is unforgiving and the darkness rarely lifts.
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