British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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12                                 new year's day.                        [Jan. i.
In the city of Coventry a sort of cake known by the name of God-cakes is sent. They are used by all classes, and vary in price from a halfpenny to one pound. They are invariably made in a triangular shape, an inch thick, and filled with a kind of mincemeat. So general is the use of them on the first day of the New Year, that the cheaper sorts are hawked about the streets as hot cross buns are on Good Friday in London. This custom seems peculiar to Coventry. N. & Q. 2nd S. vol. ii. p. 229.
A belief exists in this county, that if the carol singer who first comes to the door on New Year's morning be admitted at the front door, conducted through the house, and let out at the back the inmates will have good luck during the year.N. & Q. 2nd S. vol. iii. p. 343.
The following quaint account of a whimsical custom formerly observed on New Year's Day is taken from Blount's Fragmenta Antiquitatis, 18] 5, p. 555 :
Near Hutton Conyers there is a large common, called Hutton Conyers Moor, whereof William Aislabie, Esq., of Studley Eoyal (lord of the Manor of Hutton Conyers), is lord of the soil, and on which there is a large coney-warren belonging to the lord. The occupiers of messuages and cottages within the several towns of Hutton Conyers, Baldersby, Eainton, Dishforth, and Hewick, have right of estray for their sheep to certain limited boundaries on the common, and each township has a shepherd.
The lord's shepherd has a pre-eminence of tending his sheep on every part of the common; and wherever he herds the lord's sheep, the several other shepherds are to give way to him, and give up their hoqfing-place so long as he pleases to depasture the lord's sheep thereon. The lord holds his court the first day in the year, to entitle those
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