Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

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CHAPTER XV NEW YEAR'S DAY
Principle of New Year Customs—The New Year in France, Germany, the United States, and Eastern Europe—"First-footing" in Great Britain—Scottish New Year Practices—Highland Fumigation and " Breast-strip " Customs—Hogmanay and Aguillanneuf—New Year Processions in Macedonia, Roumania, Greece, and Rome—Methods of Augury—Sundry New Year Charms.
Coming to January i, the modern and the Roman New Year's Day, we shall find that most of its customs have been anticipated at earlier festivals ; the Roman Kalends practices have often been shifted to Christmas, while old Celtic and Teutonic New Year practices have frequently been transferred to the Roman date.*
The observances of New Year's Day mainly rest, as was said in Chapter VI., on the principle that "a good beginning makes a good ending," that as the first day is so will the rest be. If you would have plenty to eat during the year, dine lavishly on New Year's Day, if you would be rich see that your pockets are not empty at this critical season, if you would be lucky avoid like poison at this of all times everything of ill omen.
" On the Borders," says Mr. W. Henderson, " care is taken that no one enters a house empty-handed on New Year's Day. A visitor must bring in his hand some eatable ; he will be doubly welcome if he carries in a hot stoup or ' plotie.' Everybody
* A remarkably clear instance of the transference of customs from Hollantide Eve (Hallowe'en) to the modern New Year is given by Sir John Rhys. Certain methods of prognostication described by him are practised by some people in the Isle of Man on the one day and by some on the other, and the Roman date gaining ground.1
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