NEW YEAR has always been a bigger celebration in Scotland than Christmas Day.

After the Reformation in 1560, when Scotland became Presbyterian, any activity which was seen as extravagant or celebrating superstitious ideas, was heavily discouraged – and that included Christmas. In 1640 an Act of Parliament of Scotland finally made the celebration of Christmas illegal.

This ban was officially repealed in 1712, but the Church continued to frown upon festive celebrations.

Glasgow Times: Hogmanay celebrations in 1989Hogmanay celebrations in 1989 (Image: Newsquest)

Punishments for celebrating Yule were harsh, and until 1958, there was no public holiday for Scottish people on Christmas Day.

The banishment of Christmas meant that Scots focussed their celebration on Hogmanay, and the two days that followed. It became known as the ‘daft days,’ a period of merriment, celebration and excess that gave everyone something to look forward to during the bleak midwinter.

A major change to New Year took place in 1600 when, in line with much of continental Europe, the Scottish calendar changed to make January 1, rather than March 25, New Year’s Day.

The Council minutes for January 1, 1601, cites the relevant Act making the ‘year of God’ begin on this day.

I am regularly astounded by the ways Glasgow City Archives reveal so many stories of Glasgow and its citizens. This includes the ways our ancestors celebrated and marked Hogmanay and New Year.

The wonderful diaries of Thomas Cairns Livingstone, 1913 to 1933, tell the story of a shipping clerk, living in Govanhill. He left an amazing legacy of beautifully illustrated diaries, now published as Tommy’s War and Tommy’s Peace.

Glasgow Times: Thomas Cairns Livingstone's diary pagesThomas Cairns Livingstone's diary pages (Image: Glasgow City Archives)

On January 1, 1919 he comments on being ‘first fitted’ and after a ‘sumptuous tea’ and a ‘little music’ his guests went away at 1.30am. A busy time indeed, as after a short sleep, they caught the 3:38 train to Coatbridge where he was their first foots and ‘toasted in the good old-fashioned way.’

The Scottish Women’s Hospital Archives includes a report on a Hogmanay party at their hospital in Salonika, 1917-1918.

At the outbreak of World War I, Dr Elsie Inglis had offered her medical services to the war office. She was told to go home and ‘sit still.’

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Instead, Dr Inglis proposed the creation of independent hospital units to be staffed by women. Supported by the Scottish Federation of Women’s Suffrage Societies, eventually 14 medical units were established in Europe,

The Hogmanay party was the largest ever entertainment provided. The entertainment was to be entirely for Scotsmen. Different depots and companies were asked to send in a list of names. More than 1000 names were submitted and reluctantly, the list had to be cut.

Provost Marshall gave special permission to stay out until 12.15am. A splendid programme was drawn up, and everything, in the shape of refreshments, scones, cakes, was made at the hospital.

The whole staff lined up to give “the boys” a welcome and it is reported that the staff and orderlies looked “more radiant” that night in their pretty indoor uniforms.

Glasgow Times: Tom Anderson's Guid New Year cardTom Anderson's Guid New Year card (Image: Glasgow City Archives)

Much more serious was the Guid New Year card sent by Comrade Tom Anderson to James Maxton in 1936.

Born in Pollokshaws in 1863, he became active in trade unionism and politics. In 1894 he joined the newly formed Independent Labour Party. The same year he founded the first Socialist Sunday School. He later became a member of the Socialist Labour Party.

In 1917, Tom wrote his famous 'Ten Proletarian Maxims', which he believed were the basic principles of revolutionary socialism.

These resolutions featured in his 1936 New Year card, including number one: “Thou shall inscribe on your banner: Workers of all lands unite. You have nothing to lose but your chain: you have a world to win.”

For the population at large, New Year was a time of celebration and they travelled to town to mix with other revellers. The Corporation put on late-night buses to support partygoers to get home safely.

Glasgow Times: The night buses in GlasgowThe night buses in Glasgow (Image: Glasgow City Archives)

Some needed help as this cautionary cartoon from our favourite reference work, Glasgow Through a Drinking Glass: a guide to Glasgow’s better pubs, reveals.

Glasgow Times: Some good advice...Some good advice... (Image: Glasgow City Archives)

In 1990 a crowd of more than 10,000 attended the annual Hogmanay party in George Square at New Year, which ushered in Glasgow's reign as European City of Culture.

Pop groups and other musicians performed on two stages erected in the square. The event received wide television and radio coverage.

The Square was the scene of huge parties for many years afterwards.

Wishing Glasgow Times readers a wonderful New Year from everyone at Glasgow City Archives.