If you're looking for lively festivals in Europe to attend during the Christmas and New Year period then you won't need to go too far from home. Heading to Scotland to see in the New Year will give you a chance to experience the legendary Hogmanay celebrations - and you could find the history behind the festivities just as interesting as the events taking place around you. Dating back over 400 years, Hogmanay achieved such important status in Scottish society in the mid-16th century when celebrating Christmas was forbidden by the Protestant reformation. This ban continued until the 1950s, with many Scots working on Christmas day and celebrating fully at the end of December. As a result, January 2nd is also a bank holiday in Scotland, demonstrating the prominence of the festivities on the country's calendar. Hogmanay tours may teach you about some of the traditions associated with the festival, including first-footing. This sees houses welcome visitors bearing gifts after the bells have struck midnight on New Year's Eve. It was originally believed that a tall, dark stranger should be the one to first-foot a house and bring it plenty of luck, however, now it is usually friends and family that visit one another. Those receiving the guests will provide food and drink and no doubt continue the New Year's party. But while family gatherings are important at Hogmanay, the large street parties that take over Scotland's towns and cities are equally special. If you head to Scotland at this time of year, you will no doubt be drawn to Edinburgh and its spectacular New Year's Eve festivities that include a torchlight procession through the streets, a music concert and a stunning fireworks display. But cities such as Glasgow, Aberdeen and Perth can also throw a great party so you will not be limited when it comes to destinations to visit for Hogmanay. Who knows, you may have such a good time this year that you decide to travel north of the border to see in the New Year again in future!
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