The New Year may motivate some people to make resolutions around getting fit or changing bad habits. A bonus of getting older is not caring about resolutions anymore. However, some of the customs around the New Year are very interesting.
When I was a kiddie, mum would say that the first person to come in the front door after midnight on New Year, had to be a dark-haired man. Sometimes she would make one of my older dark-haired brothers go out before midnight and then come in after the clock finished chiming the midnight hour. I believe this is an old Scottish custom which was supposed to bring good luck for the year, and probably was connected to Mum’s part Scottish ancestry. Dad was no good to be the dark-haired man as he was prematurely grey, probably the result of having five kids. Poor mum was prematurely grey too.
Mum would also clean the house before New Year’s Day. She’d change the bed sheets, throw out any rubbish and tidy the lounge and no unnecessary housework was to be done on the first of January. This is a custom in many cultures.
Big New Year’s parties with lots of noise and general celebrations were common long ago and still are. Originally the idea of the noise was to frighten away bad spirits. A kiss at midnight meant the sentimentality would last throughout the year. ‘Auld Lang Syne’, the Scottish song with the words written by the poet, Robert Burns in 1788 was often sung at midnight and this custom has lasted for many years. I don’t know if young people still sing it today. Basically, it is a song that encourages the importance of love, relationships and the remembrance of people no longer here. Quite lovely really.
In recent years, I have heard that eating twelve grapes at midnight brings luck for each of the next twelve months. This is a Spanish custom.
You may have some traditional New Year customs in your own family. Do you feel like sharing these with Grandparents?
In the meantime, I leave you with an Irish blessing for the New Year:
‘In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship and never in need’.