Its origins are unknown. It may be of Auld French derivation, or Norse - a gift of the Vikings - or some twist on some Gaelic term now lost and gone. No one knows, and perhaps no one cares.
There is no real reason why it was adopted by the Scots to refer to their celebration of the winter solstice. In its origins the word might well have referred to something completely unrelated. It could have been coined as an early cricketing term notwithstanding that cricket had not been invented. Other words were prepared in anticipation. Wicket is perhaps the best example. Its use in its original sense of a gate is now hugely rare and may well have fallen by the wayside had cricket not rescued it. So hogmanay may have been intended as a cricketing term. After all there are many events in cricket which lack a specific word and hogmanay may be as good a word for any of them as any. So FB invites his readers to decide what the cricketing term hogmanay should refer to. Here are possibilities -
- the loose gathering of players of the fielding side following the taking of a wicket
- a dismissal off inside edge off pad onto the base of the stump
- a weak throw from the boundary, or nearby, which allows an additional run to be taken
- a ball which beats the batsman, glances the stumps but fails to dislodge a bail
- a bowler's footmark into which a spin bowler attempts to pitch the ball.