Christmas In Ritual & Tradition - online book

The Observance Of Christmas In Various Lands And Ages.

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

some one on the last night of the year to draw a pitcherful of water in silence, and without the vessel touching the ground. The water was drunk on New Year's morning as a charm against witchcraft and the evil A similar belief about the luckiness of " new water " exists at Canzano Peligno in th< Abruzzi. "On New Year's Eve, the fountain is decked with leaves and bits of coloured stuff, and fires arc kindled round it. As soon as it is light, the girls come as usual with their copper pots on their head ; but the youths are on this morning guardians of the well, and sell the 'new water' for nuts and fruits—and other sweet things." Si
In some of the Aegean islands when the family return from church on New Year's Day, the father picks up a stone and leaves it in the yard, with the wish that the New Year may bring with it "as much gold as is the weight of the stone."S2 Finally, in Little Russia "corn sheaves are piled upon a table, and in the midst of them is set a large pie. The father of the family takes his seat behind them, and asks his children if they can see him. * We cannot see you,' they reply. On which he proceeds to express what seems to be a hope that the corn will grow so high in his fields that he may be invisible to his children when he walks there at harvest-time." S3
With a curious and beautiful old carol from South Wales I must bring this chapter to a close. It was formerly sung before dawn on New Year's Day by poor children who carried about a jug of water drawn that morning from the well. With a sprig of box or other evergreen they would sprinkle those they met, wishing them the compliments of the season. To pay their respects to those not abroad at so early an hour, they would serenade them with the following lines, which, while connected with the " new water " tradition, contain much that is of doubtful interpretation, and are a fascinating puzzle for folk-lorists :—
" Here we bring new water From the well so clear, For to worship God with, This happy New Year.
Previous Contents Next