Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/320

This page has been validated.
312
First-Footing in Scotland.

city; groups of young men and maidens move listlessly about, others coming into the city from the country districts. Then, towards evening, the thoroughfares become thronged with the youth of the city, and by ten o'clock, in the neighbourhood of the Tron Church, small crowds of young men begin to gather, and to grow impatient for the midnight hour of carousal, first-footing, and general welcoming in of the New Year, say 1893. Next, as the midnight hour approaches, drinking of healths becomes frequent, and some are already intoxicated; the crowds become denser, the police are moving actively about regulating the traffic, which is fast becoming congested at this point, namely, the North and South Bridge Streets crossing the High Street at the "Tron". The public-houses are now closed, it is past eleven o'clock, the streets have become darker, the crowds very dense, and the hum of the voices louder and louder, when suddenly a great coloured light appears from some elevated point in the High Street. One after another of these coloured lights continue, then the bells or tubes of bronze of St. Giles now begin to ring for the midnight service, when, altogether, the scene is one of a most awe-inspiring nature. The eyes of the immense crowd are ever being turned towards the lighted clock-face of the "Auld and Faithfu" Tron, the hour approaches, the hands seem to stand still, but in one second more the hurrahing, the cheering, the hand-shaking, the health-drinking, the swaying to and fro of the immense throng, is all kept up as long as the clock continues to ring out the much-longed-for midnight hour. Many a one has there met and shaken hands for the first time and the last with the stranger, never to see or meet each other again. The crowds slowly disperse, the much intoxicated and helpless ones being hustled about a good deal, the police urging them on out of harm's way. The first-footers are off and away, flying in every direction through the city, singing, cheering, and shaking hands with all and sundry; "A gude New Year and mony o'