Ringing in the new year with bonfires and bagpipes, whisky and oysters.
Uh oh, tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and, for the first time in many years, we don’t have a plan. For the past 10 years, give or take, we have rung in the new year in Vermont with our closest friends for several days of skiing (après skiing for me), drinking, eating, guitar, bagpipes and general mayhem. This year, for various reasons (neither bagpipes nor mayhem among them), the trip did not happen. This has left us bereft of a plan, but not a purpose. We could go out to eat. Virtually every restaurant from Long Beach to Wading River, Glen Cove to Patchogue is open. Eating out is tempting, but that is not how we generally roll on December 31. After pondering this atypical predicament for about a minute, I have come up with a game plan: Hogmanay: Long Island style, with kith and kin. In the simplest of terms, hogmanay is the Scottish celebration of the New Year. This couldn’t be more perfect. My husband is of Scottish descent; “Auld Lang Syne” was written by Scotland’s favorite son, Robbie Burns, whisky is the traditional libation (we will toast 2014 with a wee dram of Pine Barrens Single Malt Whisky) and bagpipes and mayhem are completely in order. I hope that our aforementioned kith (friends) are ready for a bit o’ Scottish culture. Hogmanay celebrations include “the first footing”, which traditionally requires that the first visitor of the New Year be a tall, dark (blond men imply Viking intruders) and handsome stranger who comes bearing coal as a good luck gesture for the coming year. My husband is handsome and gray and a lump of coal should not present a problem just days after Christmas. Reminiscent of their pagan days, fire figures prominently in Scottish festivities. Bonfires and torchlight processions are believed to ward off the evil spirits lurking in the winter darkness. We can definitely do a bonfire. A torchlight parade would, without a doubt, increase the mayhem factor. And by all means, there will be bagpipes. The customary eats include fruitcake (perhaps, if I still have time, I will make the fruitcake suggested by Gabrielle Langholtz), shortbread and something called “black bun,” which seems to be a fruitcake en croute. Considering the first-footer is digging oysters as I write this, I think we will step up the customary eats with oysters, fresh out of Long Island Sound. Local oysters and local whisky; this is Hogmanay, Long Island Style. Happy New Year, Bliadhna Mhath Ùr!