Concierto didáctico de música tradicional irlandesa: lunes 3/12/18, 18:30 h., Aula Magna Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day Traditions

Hello everyone! Today is New Year’s Eve and the year 2017 is just about to begin! I am sure most of you will follow various Spanish traditions tonight, but… Aren’t you curious about how people celebrate these special days in Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland or Germany, for instance?

We looked for information and asked some abroad students too, who told us about the most unique traditions and superstitions in their countries. So, if you are interested, continue reading 😉


In Scotland, The New Year’s Eve is known as ‘Hogmanay’. The name comes from a kind of oatcake that was typically given to children on New Year’s Eve.

On this day, many people would choose to spend the night with friends or family. Also, in Edinburgh, a festival is celebrated typically from the 28th of December to the 2nd of January. On the night of the 31st of December a huge party takes place in the city, the Edinburgh Castle’ cannon would be fired at the stroke of midnight, followed by a spectacular fireworks display. They would typically sing the ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (The good old days) based on a poem by the Scottish writer Robert Burns in 1788.

[1] ‘Auld Lang Syne’
[1] ‘Auld Lang Syne’

From midnight on, the tradition of ‘first footing’ takes place. Scottish people have various superstitions as they believe the first person to cross their home threshold would determine the fate of the people living there for the new year. Typically, a dark haired man or a stranger would bring good luck. First footers would also bring gifts such as a coin or salt representing prosperity, bread, for food, coal for warmth or whisky to represent cheer, and in many places people would wish one another ”Lang may your lum reek” (hope your chimney will smoke for a long time).

[2] ‘First footing’
[2] ‘First footing’


In England, the New Year’s Eve is not widely celebrated as Christmas but some traditions are still observed. Some people would celebrate the end of the year with their family and friends and others would go to parties, pubs or clubs, especially the young people.

As a fairly recent tradition they would celebrate a big party in London. On TV, they would forecast one of the four clocks on the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster to count down the last seconds of the year, and afterwards, they would kiss at 12 o’clock, toast with champagne or sparkling wine and have fireworks or watch the fireworks taking place in London on TV. They would also do resolutions for the New Year.

[3] Fireworks in London
[3] Fireworks in London

More traditionally, at the stroke of midnight, people would open the back door to let the bad things and the old year out and, in some parts of England, the tradition of first footing also takes place. They would ask the first black haired man to cross the door and the visitors would leave the house using the back door for good luck.

On New Year’s day, the celebrations in London would continue with a huge New Year’s Day parade and most people would typically have a ‘roast dinner’ with their family: meat, vegetables, potatoes and maybe a special dessert and would watch special editions of popular TV programs and programs reviewing the last year.

While some begin the year in such a quiet way, in many coastal towns (in England and other parts of the United Kingdom, as well as in Ireland) people have the tradition to go to the sea at the morning for a New Year’s Day swim! Some may even wear fancy costumes!!

[4] New Year's Day swim
[4] New Year’s Day swim
[5] New Year's Day swim
[5] New Year’s Day swim


In Wales, the New Year’s Eve is called ‘Nos Galan’.

Many celebrations take place at Cardiff castle and Cardiff City Hall, they have fireworks, live music and organise fun-fairs and many other activities.

The tradition of first footing is also typical. It is considered that if the first footer is a woman and a man opens the door is considered bad luck, and if the first footer to cross the threshold in the New Year is a red head, it also represents bad luck.

Another interesting belief is that you should pay all your debts before the New Year begins, and if you don’t do this, it would mean a whole new year of debt!

[6] To-do-list
[6] To-do-list

On New year’s day, called ‘Dydd Calan’, children would get up early to visit their neighbors and sing songs. They would typically be given coins, mince pies, and sweets for singing. This tradition of giving gifts and money is called ‘Calennig‘. Here you can listen to a typical Calennig rhyme!



In Ireland, the New Year’s Eve is called ‘Oíche Chinn Bliana’ and the New Years day is known as ‘Lá Caille’ or ‘Lá Bliana Nua’.

Also in Ireland, many people go to dinners and parties in private homes, pubs or clubs for New Year’s Eve. At the stroke of midnight there may be fireworks and music to celebrate the beginning of the New Year. Then, New Year’s Day parades are held in many towns and cities on the 1st of January. A large parade is held in Dublin.

As an old tradition, people would clean their homes, put fresh sheets on their beds, and stock up on food and other household supplies. They believe this would bring them good luck, and a fresh and prosperous start to the New Year.

[7] Cleaning for the new year
[7] Cleaning for the new year

Another funny tradition is that at the stroke of midnight they would bang on the walls and doors of the house with Christmas bread to chase the bad luck out of the house and invite the good spirits in.

[8] Irish Christmas bread or ‘banging bread'
[8] Irish Christmas bread or ‘banging bread’

In some parts, the tradition of first footing is also considered to make predictions for the New Year’s fate and visitors would typically enter the front door and leave the house using the back door for good luck. Also, New year’s dips are organized in coastal towns in Ireland, that is, short swims in the cold waters early at the morning, as in other parts of the United Kingdom (so cold!)


Finally we turn to Germany, where New Year’s Eve is called ‘Silvester’.

Many parties are held too around the country, but most typically people would invite friends and family to have dinner together at home, for instance many people would eat ‘Raclette’ for dinner and afterwards, they would typically play some board games and funny games for forecasting the future such as distributing fortune cookies or the most typical one called ‘Bleigießen’. They would melt small quantities of lead on a silver spoon above a candle, and they would introduce then the molten lead into a bowl of cold water where it solidifies. Then, they would interpret the shape that the lead finally takes as a symbol for the fortunes of the coming year.

[9] ‘Bleigießen’
[9] ‘Bleigießen’

They would also watch special programs, films and sketches that are broadcast every year. A must-do is to watch the short clip ‘Dinner for one’, a British black and white movie, famous for being the most frequently repeated TV programme ever.

At midnight, people would cheer with sparling wine saying ‘Prost Neujahr’ (informal), do their new year’s resolutions and they would have fireworks afterwards.

Hope you enjoyed reading about these unique traditions!! Make sure you follow some of these to avoid bad luck for the coming year 😉

Spend a great night and Happy New year everyone!!



Contributors who told us about their traditions:

Claudia (Jena, Germany); Emilie (Cambridge, England); John (Nottingham, England); Emyr (Aberystwyth, Wales).

Pictures taken from:




[4] / [5]





Author: A.R.G.

Editor: E.R.S.

IRELAND: MacNean Traditional Christmas Cake (en inglés)

Karen Fahy from Galway, Ireland, brings us now the MacNean Traditional Christmas Cake, which makes the perfect dessert for the Roast Ham. The recipe is taken from Neven Maguire’s Cookbook and Neven states that “this is a very special recipe that has been handed down the Maguire family for generations. My Auntie Maureen was kind enough to let me share this you all and I hope your family enjoy it as much as we do every Christmas”.



  1. 14oz/400g raising.
  2. 14oz/400g sultanas.
  3. 6oz/175g currants.
  4. 4oz/110g cherries.
  5. 4oz/110g mixed peel, home-made or similar.
  6. 2oz/50g grated apple.
  7. 2oz/50g apricots, ready to eat and chopped.
  8. ½ teaspoon nutmeg, grated.
  9. ¼ teaspoon mixed spice.
  10. ¼ teaspoon cinnamon.
  11. 2oz/50g chopped almonds.
  12. ½ lemond rind, grated.
  13. ¼ pint/150ml whiskey.
  14. 8oz/225g butter.
  15. 8oz/225g soft brown sugar.
  16. 6 eggs, beaten.
  17. 10oz/275g plain flour, sieved.
  18. 2oz/50g ground almonds.


  1. Preheat the oven to 140ºC/Gas 1.
  2. Prepare a 9 inch/23 cm round cake tin by lining with 2 layers of greaseproof paper extending 2 inches over top of the tin. Tie a double band of brown paper around the outside of the tin.
  3. In a large bowl place the raising, sultanas, currants, cherries, mixed peel, apple, apricots, nutmeg, mixed spice, cinnamon, chopped almonds, lemon rind and ½ of whiskey. Mix thoroughly and cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave overnight.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs and sieved flour and beat until well mixed. Mix in the soaked fruit and the ground almonds and mix well.
  5. Put the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth with the back of a spoon leaving a light hollow in the centre.
  6. Bake the cake for 3-3 ½ hours. Protect the top of cake from over-browning by covering with brown paper for the last 1 ½ hours of baking. As oven temperatures can vary, check the cake after 1 ½ – 2 hours. Test by inserting a small skewer into the centre of the cake – when it comes out dry the cake is ready.
  7. Cool the cake in the tin until next day. Then turn it out and remove the paper. Using a skewer, make about 8 small holes in the cake and pour the remaining whiskey over it. Wrap the cake in 2 sheets of greaseproof paper and then cover with a lay of foil. Store in an airtight tin in a cool place.


Sent by: Karen Fahy

Source: Neven Cooks by Neven Maguire (Chapter 9: Christmas in Cavan)

Editor: C.L.C., E.R.S.

Image: E. R. S.

IRELAND: Roast Ham with Balsamic and Mustard Glaze (en inglés)

Karen Fahy from Galway, Ireland, brings us two Irish recipes for the Christmas dinner. The first recipe, Roast Ham with Balsamic and Mustard Glaze, is a classic in her family. It takes some time to cook it, but it is well worth it. The recipe is taken from Neven Maguire’s Cookbook.



  1. 10lb/ 41/2 kg knucke-end gammon, soaked in cold water overnight and then drained.
  2. 2 carrots, halved.
  3. 2 sticks celery, halved.
  4. 2 onions, peeled and halved.
  5. 4 bay leaves.
  6. 12 peppercorns.


  1. 8 cloves.
  2. 1 rounded tablespoon English mustard.
  3. 1 rounded tablespoon ground ginger.
  4. ¼ pint/150ml Golden Syrup.
  5. 1 tablespoon balsamic (or other good) vinegar.
  6. 4oz/110g brown sugar.

Cranberry Sauce:

  • 1lb/450g cranberries.
  • 4oz/110g brown sugar.
  • Pinch cinnamon.
  • 2 oranges, peeled and chopped.
  • 3 spring onions, chopped.
  • Dash Tabasco sauce.
  • Seasoning.


  1. Place the gammon in a pot of water with the carrots, celery, onions, bay, leaves and peppercorns. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes per 1lb/450g, plus 20 minutes extra. When cooked remove from the pot and allow the ham to cool.
  2. Now trim off some of the excess skin and fat and score with a sharp knife.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas 4.
  4. Mix the mustard and ginger and rub all over the gammon.
  5. Push the cloves into the skin randomly.
  6. Place the joint on a large roasting-pan or baking dish.
  7. Mix the Golden Syrup with the vinegar and brush this all over the meat.
  8. Sprinkle with the sugar and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Spoon the pan’s juices over the joint at regular intervals.
  9. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes.

To serve: Place a slice of the glazed ham on the plate and garnish with the cranberry sauce.


Sent by: Karen Fahy

Source: Neven Cooks by Neven Maguire (Chapter 9: Christmas in Cavan).

Editors: C.L.C., E.R.S.

Image: E.R.S.

II Jornadas de Estudios Irlandeses (Crónica)

Como sabéis, del 12 al 16 de diciembre se celebraron las Segundas Jornadas de Estudios Irlandeses en la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras. Organizadas por el Centro de Estudios Irlandeses y dirigidas por Pilar Villar Argáiz y Burcu Gülüm Tekin, han reunido a expertos de los más diversos ámbitos relacionados con la cultura y la historia irlandesas. Continue reading

Preview! Christmas Recipes Special / Especial recetas de Navidad



Do you like any of these recipes?

Do you know all of them?

Do you need some ideas for Christmas?

From December 17 and until December 24 you will find one or two of these recipes each day.

A whole week of Christmas recipes from English/German-speaking countries.

These recipes have been sent to us by both professors and students.

And they are not the totality of the recipes…

There is more to come…

Stay alert!

Editor and image: E.R.S.

Sources images:



Scotland flag: