New Year’s Eve—The White Heather Club and Hootenanny December 31st

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, there is a lot of confusion out there as to which is the First day of Christmas. According to my muse, Charles Kightly, the first day of Christmas is Boxing Day, the 26th of December. This makes Twelfth Night January 6th, which is Epiphany – when the three wise men rocked up with their fabulous presents. But that is a Christian day of importance, and most other authorities begin the counting on Christmas Day. So, Twelfth Night is Epiphany Eve, i.e. January 5th. Have a look at Notes&Queries for different viewpoints. One suggestion was that the Church had to accept that the Twelve Days of Christmas were taken up with pagan activities and allowed it to go on until the night before Epiphany. I have gone back and rearranged my days of Christmas accordingly and am I going to take my Christmas decorations down before going to bed on the 5th January. Twelfth Night.

New Year’s Eve

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? Can I take another blow out feast, a belly full of alcohol and a very late night? For years in my life, New Year’s Eve was spent with my parents watching some inexplicable variety show hosted in Scotland. Google has helped me remember that it was the ‘White Heather Club’ hosted by Andy Stewart. Up to 10 million people watched this between 1960 and 1968. I never understood the pleasure of it, and it seemed a symbol of an old-fashioned world that was passing and irrelevant.

More recently, if not spent at a party, New Year’s Eve is spent with Jools’ Annual Hootenanny, which is a music show masquerading as a live New Year’s Eve party. It features really excellent bands and singers. It is, however, recorded earlier in December (15th, 20th are dates I have seen) and hence a New Year’s fake. Here is a 2007 except starring Madness’s ‘House of Fun’. The fun of this is to spot the stars grooving along to the music.

New Year’s Day needs a lot of preparation. Folklore suggests that this 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, good conscience and plans for a better new year. And don’t we all need that for 2023!

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Tomorrow I am doing a New Year’s Walk and a New Year’s Virtual Tour

December 31st—New Year’s Eve

Engraving showing the custom of First Footing

First Footing

The first person to set foot into your house needs to be a ‘Tall, well-made man’. 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 whisky 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 gloomy and with rain, but it will also be warm.

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,

The wind is currently south-west, so it would seem we are in for a year of warmth and growth, with much milk and fish in the sea.