Mr Brain’s explores British New Year traditions
For most Brits, Big Ben marks the start of the New Year by chiming the stroke of midnight. However, to mark the start of 2015, Mr Brain’s wanted to go beyond the capital and explore some of the lesser known traditions that take place on New Year’s Eve across the UK.
In Scotland, people celebrate Hogmanay with street parties, live music and torchlight processions. The famous New Years song “Auld Lang Syne” originates from this Scottish festival where burning barrels of tar are often rolled through the streets to symbolise the end of one year and the start of another.
Similarly, in Northumberland, whiskey barrels are filled with burning tar and paraded around the town on people’s heads. In addition, Northern English folklore states that the first individual to enter the household on New Year’s Day is the bringer of good fortune for the rest of the year.
On New Year’s Day in Wales, people prepare a traditional Calennig, which is displayed on window sills for good luck. A Calennig is an apple with three twig legs stuck with dried fruit, cloves and a sprig of evergreen stuck in the top.
Last, but certainly not least, a West Country custom that dates back to Saxon times is the burning of the Ashen Faggot. Particularly common in Devon and Somerset, this tradition involves burning a small bundle of twigs from an Ash tree. This tradition originally took place on Christmas Eve, but was later used to mark the start of the New Year. We love to support West Country traditions, but in this case we prefer to eat our tasty faggots – not burn them!
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