British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

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

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Dec. 31.]                       new year's eve.                                  503
Be here any maids ? I suppose there be some,
Sure they will not let young men stand on the cold stone;
Sing hey, O maids, come trole back the pin,
And the fairest maid in the house let us all iu.
Come, butler, come bring us a bowl of the best: I hope your soul in heaven will rest; But if you do bring us a bowl of the small, Then down fall butler, bowl and all."
See Dixon's Ancient Poems, 1846, p. 199,
Isle of Man.
In many of the upland cottages it is customary for the housewife, after raking the fire for the night, and just before stepping into bed, to spread the ashes smooth over the floor with the tongs in the hope of finding in it, next morning, the tract of a foot; should the toes of this ominous print point towards the door, then it is believed a member of the family will die in the course of that year; but should the heel of the fairy foot point in that direction, then it is firmly be­lieved that the family will be augmented within the same period.—Train, History of Isle of Man, 1845, vol. ii, p. 115. 1
Of the New Year's customs observed in this county the wassail was until recently observed to a considerable extent. This friendly custom was observed by the young women of the village, who accustomed themselves to go about from door to door on New Year's Eve, neatly dressed for the occasion, and bearing a bowl richly decorated with ever­greens and ribbands, and filled with a compound of ale, roasted apples, and toast, and seasoned with nutmeg and sugar. The bowl was offered to the inmates with the singing of the following amongst other verses:
" Good master, at your door,
Our wassail we begin; We all are maidens poor,
So we pray you let us in, And drink our wassail.
All hail, wassail!
Wassail, wassail I And drink our wassail!"
Jour, of the Arch. Assoc. 1853, vol. viii. p. 230.
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