British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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6                                          NEW YEARS DAY.                            [JAN. I.
with oat grains, while various evergreens and berries adorn the top. A raisin is occasionally fastened on each oat grain, but this is probably an innovation.—N. & Q. 1st S. vol. i. p. 214.
In some parts of the county of Nottingham, on the first day of the New Year, troops of little children might be seen a few years ago, each bearing an orange, an apple, or a nutmeg, sometimes gilded, and stuck with cloves or rose­mary, which they were carrying to their friends to ask their blessing; the present thus given was generally carefully reserved.—Jour, of the Archceological Association, 1853, vol, viii. p. 231.
It appears from a MS. in the Br1sth Museum (Status Scholoe Etonensis, a.d. 1560. MS. Brit. Mus. Donat. 4843, fol. 423), that the boys of Eton School used, on the day of the Circumcision, to play for little New Year's gifts before and after supper; and that boys had a custom on that day, for good luck's sake, of making verses, and sending them to the provost, masters, &c, as also of presenting them to each other.
Cumberland and Westmoreland,
Early in the morning the common people assemble together, carrying 6tangs and baskets. Any inhabitant, stranger, or whoever joins not this ruffian tribe in sacrificing to their favourite saint-day, if unfortunate enough to be met by any of the band, is immediately mounted across the stang (if a woman, she is basketed), and carried shoulder high to the nearest public house, where the payment of sixpence im­mediately liberates the prisoner. None, though ever so in­dustriously inclined, are permitted to follow their respective avocations on that day.—Gent. Mag. 1791, vol. lxi. p. 1169.
Formerly the bailiffs of Maldon sent on the first day of the year, to the king's vice-admiral of Essex a present of oysters and wild fowl. Sir John Bramston notices the arrival of the gift on New Year's Day (March 26), 1688, in his Autobiography, printed for the Camden Society in 1845.
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