New Year’s Customs and Superstition
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New Year’s Customs and Superstitions
At one time in (Scotland .Ireland, Wales) the Highlands, traditionally on ”Hogmanay,” or New Year’s Eve, a young man dressed in cow-hide and , attended by youths who carried sticks to which a piece of cow-hide was attached, visited one b y one, all the houses in the neighbourhood. Upon reaching each home, he would run around it three times with a trail of other youngsters close behind. As they circled the house they would make a great noise and beat against the walls of the house. Naturally when they were invited in, the leader would then say, “May God bless the house and all that belongs to it, cattle, stones and timber! In plenty of meat, of bed and body clothes, and health of men may it ever abound!”
This odd old custom is now been adapted into what is known as “first-footing.” When people visit houses just after midnight, to wish old acquaintances and friends a happy New Year and to bestow on them gifts (that include red-herrings and coins for brining good luck), they must pay heed to who enters the house first. For instance, if a dark-haired man is the first person to cross the threshold of a house after midnight on New Year’s Eve, plenty of good luck will come all during the year. It is not unusual therefore for a member of the household, that happens to have dark hair, to go outside and come back in again just after midnight, so as to ensure this good fortune.
Outrages as this may seem in our modern day, some still hold the old belief that if a woman, or men that are squint-eyed, flat-footed, or red-haired, are the “first-footers”, in other words be the first to go in after midnight, it would mean bad luck for the inhabitants of that home. Meanwhile, a man with a high instep or one who comes on a horse is considered especially lucky. An amusing thought made me smile, imagining a rider (mounted on a stallion) fighting the traffic in our densely populated cities to manifest at someone’s doorstep, what a pandemonium that would create.
Here’s a harmless one: the moment the hour has turned midnight, the head of the household must open the front door in order to allow the Old Year to pass out and the New Year to come in.
And don’t forget to have the house cleaning, dusting, vacuuming and so forth completed well before the New Year’s Eve, to avoid the sweeping of good fortune from your house. That’s right, no sweeping after the festivities, and definitely not on the first day of New Year. Hide all the vacuum, mops and brooms so as to prevent accidental breach. You must do the same with knives and scissors, for any use will cut your luck for that following year. Don’t worry these restrictions are there only for one day.
We all have digital, electronic clocks these days that require no particular attention; however in the olden days, it must have been quite a task to go around and wind up all clocks in the house immediately after the New Year began, so as to endow the house with good fortune in the coming year.
On New Year’s Day if, upon rising, a girl should look out of her bedroom window and see a man passing by, she may reckon to be married before the year is finished.
In order to ensure good fortune in love, freedom from ill health and general prosperity all during the year, you should on New Year’s Day, dance in the open air and around a tree. (This is also considered a good cure for the hangover and I imagine a good laugh for all your neighbours.)
Finally, children born on New Year’s Day aside from the general distinction, it said to bring great fortune and prosperity to all members of that household.
Wishing you a joyous holiday season and a New Year filled with peace and happiness.