East Yorkshire News Year’s Traditions
The following New Year traditions from East Yorkshire were published in ‘County Folk-Lore Volume VI – Examples of Printed Folk-Lore Concerning The East Riding of Yorkshire (1911)’ which was edited by Eliza Glutch.
All peacock feathers must be thrown out before New Year’s Day, or else you will have ill luck.
On New Year’s Eve you must take pieces of money, bread, wood, coal and a little salt, tie them up in a bundle, and lay on the doorstep after twelve. Some one will then come, and you must ask his name. If he says ” John Smith,” he must not be admitted, because the initial letters of his name are curved ; but, if he say ” Edward Thompson,” admit him at once, as his initial letters are made up of straight lines ; but he must bring the bundle in with him that was laid on the step. He must then wish you a happy new year, and after receiving a gift pass out by the back door. Then, behold, good luck is yours for another year.
On both Christmas and New Year’s Eves, when the clock begins to strike twelve, the doors — especially the front and back — are opened, that the bad spirits may pass out and the good ones pass in, and immediately the clock has struck twelve the doors are shut, as it is said, “to keep the good spirits in.”
The first person to enter the house on a New Year’s morning must be a man. Many Holderness folks tell some little chap to be ready to come in so soon as the old year is dead, and so secure good luck to the household.
When the master enters his house for the first time in the new year, he must take something in which he did not take out. A Hull friend told me he always emptied his pockets before he left home on New Year’s morning, and put in some money and bread, which he procured at his mother’s, and so reached his home armed with the necessaries of life.
Some people place a sixpence on the door-step on New Year’s Eve, and so soon as the clock strikes it is brought in. — ‘This, I need hardly say, is done in the county! You must never go out on New Year’s Day until some one has come in is the rule in some parts. ‘
The first new moon of the new year must not be seen through glass. I know many people who are most particular about this, as it is said to cause all manner of misfortune. This moon is a most interesting one, and some of my young relations take advantage of its power in the following way. So soon as the new moon is reported, silk handkerchiefs are placed so as to catch the reflection of the new moon, and then each one looks earnestly through her silk handkerchief into the mirror ; and lo ! the number of moons she sees foretells the number of years she must wait ere she is married. Some say any new moon will do. Verb. sap.
Whatever you are doing on New Year’s Day you will be doing all the year. Several of my Yorkshire relatives always have a piece of work of some sort, which is solemnly completed on New Year’s Day, in order that the new year may be happy and prosperous. A sequence of completion.
In Hull so soon as the clock strikes twelve on the last midnight of the year a troop of lads drawn from all parts of the town, commence their rounds, and until 9 or 10 o’clock in the morning your door is besieged and your bell-handle well-nigh dislocated by those who are most earnest in the new year’s wishes and equally earnest in the demands to be remembered. The same sort of thing begins on Christmas Day about 7 a.m.