British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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18                                new year's day,                         [Jan. i.
lander then takes a large brush, with which he profusely asperses the occupants of all beds ; from whom it is not un­usual for him to receive ungrateful remonstrances against ablution. This ended, and the doors and windows being thoroughly closed, and all crevices stopped, he kindles piles of the collected juniper in the different apartments, till the vapour from the burning branches condenses into opaque clouds, and coughing, sneezing, wheezing, gasping, and other demonstrations of suffocation ensue. The operator, aware that the more intense the " smuchdan " the more propitious the solemnity, disregards these indications, and continues, with streaming eyes and averted head, to increase the fumiga­tion, until in his own defence he admits the air to recover the exhausted household and himself. He then treats the horses, cattle, and other bestial stock in the town with the same smothering, to keep them from harm throughout the year. When the gude wife gets up, and having ceased from coughing, has gained sufficient strength to reach the bottle dhuy she administers its comfort to the relief of the sufferers; laughter takes the place of complaint, all the family get up, wash their faces, and receive the visits of their neighbours, who arrive full of congratulations peculiar to the day. Mu nase choil orst, " My Candlemas bond upon you," is the customary salutation, and means, in plain words, "You owe me a New Year's gift." A point of great emulation is, who shall salute the other first, because the one who does so is entitled to a gift from the person saluted. Breakfast, consisting of all procurable luxuries, is then served, the neighbours not engaged are invited to partake, and the day ends in festivity.—Popular Superstitions of the Highlanders of Scotland^ Stewart, 1851.
Pennant, in his Tour in Scotland (1790, vol. i. p. 206), say? that on New Year's Day the Highlanders burn juniper before their cattle.
At the commencement of the New Year* the opulent burghers of Montrose begin to feast with their friends, and to go a round of visits, which takes up the space of many
* Also at Christmas.
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