DECEMBER 31ST NEW YEAR’S EVE

Happy new year card showing drunken wealthy young man slumped on the snow overlooked by a policeman

On the seventh day of Christmas
My true love sent to me:
7 Swans a Swimming; 6 Geese a Laying;

5 Golden Rings;

4 Calling Birds; 3 French Hens; 2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

First an admission, I have just changed all my days of Christmas to one day earlier. According to my muse, Charles Kightly, the first day of Christmas is Boxing Day, the 26th of December. According to most other authorities it begins on Christmas Day. So, I have gone back and rearranged my days of Christmas.

This is a day of preparation, and perhaps of anxiety. Have we got an invitation anywhere tonight? Is anyone going to come to our party? Am I in good shape for a late night and a belly full of alcohol? For years in my life New Years Eve was spent with my parents watching some inexplicable variety show hosted in Scotland. More recently, if not spent at a party is spent with Jools’ Annual Hootenanny, which is a live music show masquerading as a New Year’s Eve party.

Folklore suggests that your preparation should include finishing off any unfinished work or projects, as a task carried forward is ill-omened. Your accounts for the year should be reconciled, and as Charles Dickens suggests in the Chimes, your moral account with the world should also be addressed so that you can come into the New Year with a clean slate and good conscience.

Next you need to make sure a ‘Tall, well-made man’ is the first-footer into your house. Dark haired men are preferred to fair-haired, but he must not be dressed in black, nor be from the ‘professions’ (those people who can counter-sign your passport). He must not carry a knife but he must bring gifts, particularly a loaf of bread, a bottle of whisky, a piece of coal or wood, and a silver coin. Silence is to welcome him to the house until he puts the coal on the fire, pours a glass of the brandy and greets the family. He will bring in the luck through the front door on the stroke of midnight; the bread symbolising that you will be well fed, the fuel that you will be warm and safe, the whisky that you will have fun and the coin will bring prosperity. Your first-footer will take the old year and its bad-luck out of the back door when he leaves.

The weather today will be reflected on the 7th month – so July will start brightly with blue sky peeping through scudding clouds.

Or as a Scottish Rhyme has it (quoted in the Perpetual Almanac)

If New Year’s Eve night-wind blow south

That betokens warmth and growth

If west, much milk, and fish in the sea

If North, much cold and storms will be

If east, the tress will bear much fruit

If north-east, flee it, man and brute,

2 more days till my ‘Ring in the New Year Virtual Walk. To book click here:

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