What exactly is Hogmanay?
It is the world-famous Scottish tradition of seeing in the New Year. The origins of the word, and indeed the custom are shrouded in mystery still, some say the celebration is a throwback to Viking traditions, while others point to a possible French Gallic influence. The third theory is that it is a custom anchored in pagan virtues of the Yule Solstice. In any case, the modern era Scottish Hogmanay is renowned all around the globe, not least for the illustrious Edinburgh Street Party.
From the Norse steeped Isles of Shetland and Orkney to the Tweed straddling Borders, the nation as a whole puts its feet up and has a wee celebratory dram. Wherever you may be in the world, you too can welcome in the new calendar year with a Scottish accent to your celebration.
The easiest way to ‘dae it’ the Scottish way is to first-foot your neighbours. Don’t be alarmed, it’s less violent than it sounds! First-footing is the custom of being the first visitor across the threshold of the home of your friends or family after the bells have rung in the first day of January.
As such, it is accompanied by a goodwill gesture of bringing a gift with you. This is perhaps the most common tradition to linger in Scotland from yesteryear. It can also be a perfect opportunity to add a little vegan touch to the households of friends and family.
Host your own first footing meal
The cold night means the food has to be hearty and comforting. Some choose a pie for the main – a lentil crumble or ‘creamy’ mushroom pie with either shortcrust or puff pastry fits the bill perfectly. For a simple main, you could try easy mushroom filo tartlets. Using vegan store-bought pastry, cut the pastry into squares of around 12cm by 12cm. Brush lightly with olive oil. You will need three squares per tart, lay them in tartlet tins on top of each other at different angles, creating a star shape, and bake until golden (this should take less than 10 minutes). Gently sauté a finely-sliced onion in oil, adding sliced wild mushrooms after five minutes. Add a good pinch of cayenne pepper, and cook for another five minutes. Add a splash of cream, along with some veggie stock, and continue to cook over a low heat until the liquid has reduced. Spoon the veggies into the tart cases, and serve immediately.
For those who prefer the traditional haggis, it’s easy to get hold of a plant-based version, filled with tasty vegetables, oats, lentils and spices. You can buy these in healthfood shops, as well as supermarkets. The haggis is already cooked, so it’s usually a case of just heating it up.
The pie or haggis should be served with a side dish of rumbledethumps, a delicious root vegetable recipe. Place mashed potato and swede – either fresh or leftover – into a mixing bowl. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan, and add a few good handfuls of finely sliced cabbage or kale, sauté for a few minutes. Mix the veg with the mash, and stir well, with a tablespoon of vegan spread. Put the mixture in an ovenproof dish, and sprinkle with grated, dairy-free cheese. Cover with foil and bake for half an hour in a low to medium oven.
In terms of drinks, there is nothing wrong with a classic malt whisky, of which there are so many vegan examples to sample. And for pudding, for an authentic touch, there is the black bun cake which consists of a dense fruit cake within a pastry case.