Get Het Up over Lanark’s Ne’erday tradition

Het it might have been in the 17th century? (Pic Andrew Wilson)
Het it might have been in the 17th century? (Pic Andrew Wilson)
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LANARKIANS seem to have a special knack of making sure any traditions they keep involve having a bit of fun – and usually a wee tipple – while they’re being soberly observed.

There is, though, one major date on the Lanark civic calendar that encourages the partaking of a wee tipple right from the start – The Het Pint.

The ceremony in which Lanarkians of mature years can nip – if you’ll excuse the pun – into the Tolbooth at 10am on a Ne’erday morning to claim a bevvy on the Burgh probably dates back far longer than recorded history now tells us.

To modern eyes, it might look like some ancient, post-Hogmanay ‘hair of the dog’ treatment service but, in fact, the origins of The Het Pint go way, way back to pre-Welfare State times when that old form of Scottish charity The Common Weal was observed throughout the land, ESPECIALLY in the nation’s Royal Burghs.

At some point in history, one very long-departed Lanark leading light – with a heart of gold – said to themself: “It’s alright for us comfortably-off folk raising a glass to toast in the New Year ... but what about the poor of the Burgh?”

And so it came to pass that, on Ne’erday morn, any Lanarkian, no matter how poor, could belately ‘claim’ his Hogmanay toast from the town council.

These days, the town council is long gone but The Het Pint is proudly carried on by the Community Council, even the fuzziest-headed member making their way to the Tolbooth this morning at 10am to help dispense the ancient concoction to claimants.

For more on this, pick up a copy of the Carluke and Lanark Gazette, in the shops now - or go along to the Tolbooth on January 1 and join in!