Oidhche Challain + the old New Year


Bliadhna mhath ùr! Happy new year! No, you’re not going mad, for it is the 12th of January and the new 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, but I make a quiet note of it to myself each year. Oidhche Challain – Hogmanay – would see ceilidhs and first footing undertaken, tales told and songs sung. Different areas would have their own particular traditions to see out the old year; this article 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.

The photos in this post are (top – bottom) from Blair Atholl, the East Neuk, North Uist and Islay. Each one reminds me of how beautiful a change in light can make a scene, whether Winter or Summer.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Bliadhna mhath ùr dhuibh uile – happy new year to you all.



10 thoughts on “Oidhche Challain + the old New Year

  1. Lovely, evocative post to. Read first thing  this morning.  Well done once again Anna. Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  2. Nice reminder of Old New Year, Anna.
    Until recent years, Islay’s Gaelic choir used to host an annual Old New Year ceilidh in a local hotel. Good fun it was, too. Sad to see old traditions not kept up.

    • Thanks for your comment, Susan. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to get them restarted for 2018? What a shame they don’t run anymore. Nothing beats a good ceilidh!

  3. Reblogged this on snàth handspun yarns and handknits and commented:
    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.

  4. Great pictures, and I’m soooo glad someone else is crazy enough to celebrate the old New Year. In Russia, it’s celebrated as well because of the old Julian calendar. Happy New Year! 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment! I think it’s nice to keep the old traditions in mind. Good to hear it’s celebrated in Russia too – any idea what the Russian word for it is? A belated happy new year from Scotland!

  5. Anna,
    Love the way you have captured the light in these photographs.
    Do you know what the machine in the third photo is ?
    I’m wondering what it would be used for.

    Fiona x

    • Fiona, ceud taing son an comment agad. ‘S e seann tractar a choireigin a bh’ann, an Uibhist a Tuath. Chan eil mi buileach cinnteach de’n rud mòr a tha tighinn dheth, ged ta.

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