From first footing to partying on through midnight into the new year, it’s safe to say Kirkcaldy folk can celebrate the tradition of Hogmanay with the best of them.
Customs may have changed through the decades, but the traditional celebration of seeing out the old and bringing in the new, remains one of the key moments of the festive period.
The origins of Hogmanay are actually unclear, but it may be derived from Norse and Gaelic observances, with some believing it also relates back to the Vikings and their celebration of Yule.
The first appearance of the celebration in the English language dates back to 1604 in the records of Elgin, with a reference to “hagmonay”.
Traditions vary across Scotland, from fireball swinging in Stonehaven, to the once popular tradition among the fishing communities of Dundee who carried decorated herrings as part of Hogmanay celebrations.
In Fife, the men of Falkland used to march in torchlight procession to the top of the Lomond Hills as midnight approached while bakers in St Andrews had a tradition of baking cakes for their Hogmanay celebration, also known locally as ‘Cake Day’ and distributed them to local children.
Local Hogmanay stories have always been reported by the Press so spare a thought for one startled couple in Strathmere Street in 1938 who were astonished to return home early in the new year to find a rook stranded in their living room.
The hapless bird was the most unusual of first footers having fallen down the chimney causing considerable damage in doing so.
On January 1, 1954, the Fife Free Press splashed up and coming actress Valerie Pertwee, who was at the time starring alongside David Niven in the hit British comedy ‘O’Leary Night’ (anyone remember that?) stylishly across the pages wishing readers best wishes for the new year.
On the same day the Press reported on concerns that the new year traditions of old, in particular the ancient traditional game of ‘Bawbee She Kyles’ - a contest of rolling an iron ball into a hole, a traditional new year holiday event in Ravenscraig Park - had once again not been played on Hogmanay.
It was reported that for the third year in succession the keeper of the 8lb iron ball had waited for over an hour at Dominic’s Green in case someone should turn up to play, but no one came.
By 1975 the message was for people to be happier than they had been in 1974.
Let’s hope for a better solution to the issues of inflation, food shortages and economic prosperity as well as an outcome to the troubles in Northern Ireland, wrote Kirkcaldy MP Harry Gourlay in his new year message to readers.
As the town prepared to welcome in 1982, the focus for nurses at Forth Park maternity ward was on delivering new life.
That Hogmanay proved the busiest ever for the ward with no less than nine babies delivered that night, all of which were featured on the front page of the Press.
By the 1990s, parties rather than first footing had become the norm with the Town Square the main focus for revellers.
The biggest, of course, was that of the new millennium where hundreds flocked to the Town Square to be part of the historic celebrations.
Crowds were treated to live bands, fire eaters and acrobats as a new era dawned.