Joanna Bristow Watkins


  • Friday 31st December, New Year's Eve & Hogmanay

    31 Dec Happy New YearFriday 31st December is New Year's Eve and Hogmanay in Scottish tradition. Many Scots had to work over Christmas because celebrations were virtually banned in Scotland for around 400 years, from the end of the 17th century to the 1950s. The Protestant Reformation led to the Presbyterian outlook, branding Christmas as a Popish or Catholic feast which was therefore prohibited. As a result, their winter solstice celebrations took place at New Year when family and friends gathered for a party and exchanged presents, especially for the children, which came to be called Hogmanay. Historians believe that the Vikings who, coming from even further north than the UK, paid strong attention to the passing of the shortest day and hence may have initiated the post-Solstice celebrations.

    There is no definitive view on the origins of the word Hogmanay. Many Scottish words have derived from Flemish, so one popular view is that Hogmanay came from hoog min dag which means 'great love day', whereas the Scandinavian word Hoggo-nott described the 'feast preceding Yule' (itself a Scandinavian word commonly used in Shetland where the Scandinavian influence was strongest).

    Alternatively, Hogmanay could source from the Anglo-Saxon, Haleg monath, 'Holy Month', or the Gaelic for 'new morning', oge maidne. Phonetically, a good candidate night be the similar sounding French expression Homme est né which means 'Man is born'. Also, in France the last day of the year when gifts were exchanged was aguillaneuf, though specifically in Normandy presents given at the year-end were hoguignetes.

    In Scotland a similar practice to that in Normandy was noted, rather disapprovingly, by the Church.

    "It is ordinary among some Plebians in the South of Scotland, to go about from door to door upon New Year`s Eve, crying Hagmane." 
    Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence, 1693.

    I'm not sure what will happen this year, but common Scottish practices on 31st December, before midnight, have involved a thorough cleaning of the house (including taking out the ashes from the coal fire) plus the superstition to clear all your debts. Immediately after midnight, the long-held tradition to sing Robert Burns's For Auld Lang Syne has now evolved into a popular international custom.

    31 Dec Hogmanay by Chris FlexenMany areas of Scotland have previously developed their own local Hogmanay rituals such as the fireball swinging rituals in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, in northeast Scotland. Chicken wire structures - filled with old newspaper, sticks, rags, and other dry flammable material  - are attached to lengths of wire, chain or non-flammable rope. When the Old Town House bell marks the New Year, the balls are set alight and the celebrants set off along a heritage route, swinging the burning balls around their heads as they go. At the end of the ceremony, any fireballs that are still burning are cast into the harbour.

    In the Scottish Capital of Edinburgh, in the past they have really gone to town with a world famous 4-5 day New Year Celebration starting on 28th December and lasting until 1st or 2nd January, both of which are bank holidays in Scotland to allow folks to fully recover!

    The Edinburgh festival is centred around the main shopping area in Princes Street where they traditionally held a lively street party. At the stroke of midnight, the cannon is usually fired at Edinburgh Castle, followed with a massive fireworks celebration. The image left shows Hogmanay fireworks over Edinburgh Castle by Chris Flexen.

    Aligning ourselves with community celebrations is very therapeutic and is excellent for bringing harmony and wellbeing into our lives.

    Harmony Healing utilises the philosophies of the Ancient Egyptians, in the form of Reyad Sekh Em (RSE) Egyptian Alchemy Healing, to bring balance and harmony. Reyad Sekh Em (RSE) Level 1 -our next interactive training course series will start in 2022

    Through Harmony Healing, Joanna offers a wider spectrum of events designed to nurture your welbeing. If you are looking for regular spiritually enlightening activities which help to connect you with the lunar cycle, we have our monthly Full Moon Guided Healing Meditations. The next one is Monday 17th January at 7.30-9.30pm (UK time = GMT). Participants all receive a deeply healing experience. Cost to participate is £20 by online BACS payment (small admin fee added for PayPal) or half price to RSE graduates. There are multi-buy packages for regular attendees. Book at the Harmony Shop.

    New Year New Vision is a mentoring programme through the first full lunar cycle of 2022. This includes distant attunements to the Moon (New Moons on 2nd January and 1st February plus Full Moon on Monday 17th January), and ending with an elemental ritual Imbolc ceremony on the Chinese New Year of the Water Tiger (1st February). Costing £155, find out more via our YouTube Video.

    Other services

    Within Surrey, via Harmony In Nature, we facilitate Forest Bathing+ Sessions to help adults reconnect with nature and reap the therapeutic benefits.

    Currently, MP3 meditations and distant readings and healings are proving popular and we offer Harmony Healing Vouchers for any value for use on Harmony Healing services  andHarmony in Nature vouchers for Forest Bathing vouchers (£35).

    To receive regular Blog updates (headed with a title detailing the occasion or event so that you can choose whether to open it or not), featuring New and Full Moon, meteor showers, eclipses and other meteorological events, interesting anniversaries, ancient festival dates plus notification of dates of numerological significance, sign up for the Harmony Healing e-newsletters above or at the top of any page of this Harmony Healing website. The nature of the Blog means that whenever there are several key dates in close succession, there will be frequent mailings. The sender e-mail address is  (and the sender will show as Joanna Bristow-Watkins @ Harmony Healing). You may need to add this email to your safe list and check your junk filter initially.