New Year Traditions
New Year Traditions
In Britain the custom of first footing is practiced. The first male visitor to the house after midnight is usually supposed to bring good luck. Usually they bring a gift like money, bread, or coal, which is done to ensure the family, will have plenty of these things all the year to come. The first person must not be blond, red-haired or women as these people are supposedly bad luck.
The Druids gave a gift of twigs from the mistletoe, as this was a plant that was sacred to them as a magic source of fertility. It would bestow on the recipient a fruitful year in the number of children, as well as the amount of cattle and the amount of crop.
In Ireland in the west the direction of the wind blowing at New Year would indicate the trend of politics in the coming year. If it blew from the west it would flourish, if from the east the English would have upper hand.
Also on New Year's Eve if they ate a very large supper they would have plenty of food for the coming year.
One custom that was practiced on New Year's Eve was to take a large loaf of Christmas bread or cake outside the house and hammer it against the closed doors and windows, this was done so as to drive out any misfortune and let happiness in.
In England crowds of people gather in Trafalgar square, and Piccadilly Circus as well as stand around to hear the chimes of London's Big Ben announces the arrival of the New Year. Everyone stands around with arms linked to sing Auld Lang Syne.
The custom of exchanging gifts was transferred to Christmas it was originally done at New Year, when the Lord of the Manor was given samples of produce by his tenants and peasants, while he gave a valuable gift to the Queen or King. The Englishman gave their wives money to by pins for the coming year. This Tradition died, but, the expression "pin money" is still used to describe the money set aside for personal use, especially if given to a woman by her husband.
The Burning Bush is a nineteenth century custom carried into the early years of this century. In Radnorshire and Herefordshire farmhand would get up early before dawn on New Year's Day and carry a hawthorn bush to the field. They were burnt in straw on the wheat field. It was a symbol of good luck for the farmers. The bushes sometimes hung in the kitchen until the next year.
In England girls would drop egg whites into water. They thought it would form the first letter of the name of the man they would marry.
On New Year's Day children from England and Great Britain would rise early to make the rounds to their neighbours singing songs. They were given coins, mince pies, apples and other sweets for singing. This had to be done by noon or the singers would be called fools.