British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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Jan. t.]                        new year's day.                                   7
At Bromyard and its neighbourhood, as twelve o'clock on the 31st of December draws near, and the last of the Christmas carols are heard without doors, and a pleasurable excitement is playing on the faces of the family around the last Christmas log within, a rush is made to the nearest spring of water, and whoever is fortunate enough to first bring in the " cream of the well," as it is termed, and those who first taste of it, have " prospect of good luck through the forthcoming year,'* Also, in the early hours of the New Year, after a funeral service has been said over " Old Tom" as the old year is called, at the public-houses and ale and cider stores, the streets are filled with boys and men, singing in the loudest tones possible:
" I wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year, A pocket full of money,
And a cellar full of beer, And a good fat pig
To serve you all the year. Ladies and gentlemen.
Sat (nc) by the tire, Pity we poor boys
Out in the inire."
The Antiquary 1873, vol. iii. p. 7.
In the neighbourhood of Boss, it is deemed most un­fortunate for a woman to enter the house first, and therefore an inquiry is generally made whether a male has previously been there. It is customary for the peasantry to send about on this day a small pyramid, made of leaves, apples, nuts, &c.—Fosbroke, Sketches of Ross, 1822, p. 58.
Should a female, or a light-haired male, be the first to enter a house on the morning of New Year's Day, it is supposed to bring bad luck for the whole of the year then commencing. Various precautions are taken to prevent this misfortune: hence many male persons with black or
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