How we cel­e­brated the New Year

Ring out the old, ring in the new – as the bells wel­come in the year 2019, Yours writer Mar­ion Clarke shares read­ers’ sto­ries of how they cel­e­brate the New Year north and south of the bor­der

YOURS (UK) - - Contents -

‘We kept other cus­toms such as turn­ing the taps on be­fore mid­night to get rid of the old year’s bad luck’

Funny how times change – when I was young New Year’s Eve al­ways meant a party with ev­ery­one join­ing hands at mid­night to sing Auld Lang Syne fol­lowed by much hug­ging and kiss­ing and do­ing the hokey cokey out into the street. These days I am more likely to be tucked up in bed with a good book well be­fore Jools Hol­land’s an­nual Hoo­te­nanny gets un­der way!

Not so Sharon Has­ton, a true Scot who wouldn’t dream of re­tir­ing be­fore the clock strikes 12: “I was so ex­cited the first time I was al­lowed to stay up to ‘see in the bells’ and helped Mum lay out good­ies such as the tra­di­tional black bun. Shortly after mid­night, friends and neigh­bours ar­rived, all car­ry­ing bot­tles of whisky and pack­ets of short­bread. I was al­lowed to sam­ple a very weak Ad­vo­caat and le­mon­ade and felt very grown up.

“Guests all took their turn to sing with ev­ery­one get­ting up to dance in our liv­ing room. A piper ar­rived and I can tell you that bag­pipes sound ex­tremely loud when played in­doors! The next day we had a fam­ily din­ner of steak pie fol­lowed by clootie dumplings. De­li­cious!”

Mrs C Fletcher also has happy Hog­manay mem­o­ries: “My fa­ther was proud of his Scot­tish her­itage so New Year cel­e­bra­tions were even more im­por­tant than Christ­mas. Our fam­ily cus­toms in­cluded wear­ing new clothes and en­ter­tain­ing guests. A tall, dark man was per­suaded to bring luck by ‘first foot­ing’. As we lived in the south of Eng­land, our first footer was usu­ally the only per­son to be seen on the doorstep wait­ing for the stroke of mid­night and one year he was mis­taken for a would-be bur­glar by a pass­ing po­lice­man. After we had ex­plained why he was there, the po­lice­man joined our party!

“As my mother was su­per­sti­tious we kept other New Year cus­toms as well, such as turn­ing the taps on just be­fore mid­night to get rid of the old year’s bad luck, eat­ing some­thing sweet like cake, and turn­ing over our money.”

York­shire lass Heather McEwen now lives in Nor­folk where she says lo­cal folk re­fer to it as Old Year’s Night. She re­calls: “When I was young we would al­ways spend it at my grandma’s. The fam­ily brought food and we played card games or had a bee­tle drive which was great fun. Come the chimes of mid­night, as I was the one with the dark­est hair, I would en­ter the house car­ry­ing a piece of coal to bring good luck and was re­warded with a few coins.” There is one cus­tom that be­comes in­creas­ingly poignant as years go by – rais­ing a glass to ab­sent friends in­evitably brings to mind the loved ones we sorely miss. For Iso­bel Simp­son, who hails from Aberdeen­shire, this hap­pened last year when her son played

The Cor­ries’ song Dark Lochna­gar on his ac­cor­dion, stand­ing in front of a roar­ing log fire, sur­rounded by friends and fam­ily: “I was so proud of him – it was ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful and very touch­ing be­cause I knew he was think­ing of his grandpa, whom he was very close to.”

In the vil­lage where June Cob­ham grew up, ev­ery­one went to the lo­cal pub to cel­e­brate as a com­mu­nity: “Just be­fore mid­night we all went out­side and stood in a cir­cle in the mid­dle of the road. We joined hands as the land­lord counted down to twelve o’clock when we sang Auld Lang Syne be­fore go­ing back in to be given a free drink to toast the New Year.” As June points out, there wasn’t much traf­fic on the roads back then so less chance of be­ing run over by a late-night rev­eller!

For Heather Moul­son, New Year’s Eve 1976 is mem­o­rable for all the wrong rea­sons: “We were at a mar­vel­lous party and I was danc­ing with my boyfriend to Ste­vie Won­der singing, Isn’t She Lovely. We were both an­tic­i­pat­ing the ar­rival of 1977 and won­der­ing what it would bring us.

“Half an hour after mid­night, as we were leav­ing, my boyfriend got into an ar­gu­ment and was punched on the nose. The brand-new year didn’t look so promis­ing after that!”

‘Guests took turns singing with ev­ery­one get­ting up to dance... and the next day we had a fam­ily din­ner of steak pie and clootie dumplings’

Sylvia Adam­son thinks she may have spoiled new year for quite a few peo­ple when she was 18: “A friend and I went to a dance at the lo­cal town hall. The next morn­ing my mother called the doc­tor to see me and he di­ag­nosed chicken pox. As I hadn’t been short of part­ners

at the dance, I’ve often won­dered how many of them woke with chicken pox the next day!” That sounds worse than the usual hang­over, Sylvia.

Poor Elaine Turner didn’t even make it to the party: “My boyfriend John was tak­ing me to a dance. I had a new dress and was look­ing for­ward to our first New Year’s Eve to­gether, then at around four o’clock my ear started to ache. Mum rubbed some oil in and put a warm scarf around my head. By the time John ar­rived at 7.30pm, I was in agony. He stayed and held my hand all evening. I cried the New Year in. The doc­tor said I had an ab­scess and pre­scribed an an­tibi­otic. Luck­ily, the ex­pe­ri­ence didn’t put John off and we were mar­ried two years later.”

Mar­ion as a young girl

Party time! Bar­bara Nut­tall’s daugh­ter Heather dressed up as a fairy with a ban­ner to let in the New Year of 1978

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