Catriona Robertson

journeys at home and abroad

Hogmanay

Planning some dancing tomorrow night at Shoreditch Town Hall.  I have never managed to adjust to English new year customs and generally feel altogther far too wild to be taking a sip of whisky at midnight while watching Jools Holland.

The CEJI course last month brought some micro-identity ideas to the surface.  In London (& particularly in things like census forms and project monitoring) people are often categorised in crude and inflexible ways, often relating just to race, age, sex, religion, when the complex picture about any of us is a whole lot more interesting.  I like Amartya Sen’s take on single & multiple identity.

Coming from the Scottish highlands (as my name suggests), I was interested in the Flemish/Walloon differences in Belgium, particularly the former’s reserve.  It took me back to my childhood and the subtle and sparse conversation which nevertheless conveyed so much.

Maybe Hogmanay is one of the few festivals that most of us do all join in?  I’ve whooped at Big Ben’s chimes in Westminster with all kinds of Londoners in past years.  Most people in Europe go along with the Gregorian calendar, so even people who start their year at a different time (which includes the Church of England – not just Zoroastrians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Baha’is, Sikhs and probably many others) are likely to notice the switch to 2010, even if nobody now writes cheques.

Music, dancing and a nip of single malt are often part of the package and also my preferred version, but not essential.  At best, Hogmanay gathers strangers together happily – at a public event if possible.  The stay-at-home-with-tv option just isn’t the real McCoy.  Edinburgh and London have got it about right – thousands watching designer fireworks and everyone welcome to see in the new year together.

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This entry was posted on 30 December 2009 by in London and tagged , , , .
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